WALLASEY RACECOURSE

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Earliest meeting: May 1590
Final meeting: Tuesday 5th April 1785
Today Wallasey is a town on the River Mersey in the Borough of Wirral, yet in the late 1500s the town gained fame as being the first racecourse laid out specifically for the purpose of horse racing. The course opened in 1590, stretching from Wallasey Village to the sands of Leasowe, and such was the extent of the interest in racing that Ferdinando, The Fifth Earl of Derby, built a grandstand (an Octagonal viewing tower with windows on each of the eight sides) in 1593 as much for viewing as to keep the gentry away from the lesser mortals. Racing stables were built close to the racecourse in what is now Sandiways Road, but back in the time of the stables it was called Jockey Road. The Duke of Monmouth, a keen racing enthusiast, visited Wallasey in September 1682. His name was James Scott and he was the eldest illegitimate son of Charles II and his mistress Lucy Walter. Later he made a fateful, unsuccessful attempt to depose his uncle, King James II, in what was known as the ‘Monmouth Rebellion’. As a result of this he was executed at Tower Hill on 15th July 1685. Although the Fifth Earl of Derby developed the course and built the grandstand, it was to be over 100 years before a number of the landed gentry were to meet to discuss a ‘super race’. That group included the Earl of Derby, Lord Gower, the Dukes of Devonshire, Ancaster and Bridewater, along with Lord Molyneux, with the race in question being The Wallasey Stakes. It was first run in 1723 and continued to be contested on the first Thursday in May until 1732. Baily’s Racing Register first provided detailed results from the meeting held on Thursday 1st May 1727 when Sir R Grosvenor’s Spot won the 4 mile Wallasey Stakes. After 1732 the Wallasey Stakes transferred to racing Headquarters at Newmarket, but by 1780 it had moved again, this time to Epsom where, on the toss of a coin, it was renamed The Derby by Edward, the Twelfth Earl of Derby. The final meeting took place on Tuesday 5th April 1785.

This racecourse is covered in Volume 1 of Racecourses Here Today and Gone Tomorrow. Ordering details shown below.

Local Patrons Earl of Derby, Lord Gower, Duke of Devonshire, Duke of Ancaster, Duke of Bridgewater, Lord Molyneux, Sir R Grosvenor
Principal Races Wallasey Stakes, Wallasey £60 Purse

Tuesday 12th September 1682

Wallasey £60 Purse
1. Unnamed horse owned by the Duke of Monmouth
2. Young Whiteley ridden by his owner
3. Unnamed horse owned by Mr Bold

Thursday 1st May 1727

The Wallasey Stakes over 4 miles
1. Spot owned by Sir R. Grosvenor
The Grey horse beat a field of seven others, although further details were not provided.

Wallasey Stakes winners over 4 miles

Thursday 6th May 1723 Unnamed horse owned by the Duke of Ancaster

Thursday 4th May 1724 Shagg owned by Sir Richard Grosvenor

Thursday 3rd May 1725 Mermaid owned by The Duke of Devonshire

Thursday 2nd May 1726 Grey Wynn owned by Sir Richard Grosvenor

Thursday 1st May 1727 Spot owned by Sir Richard Grosvenor

Thursday 6th May 1728 Gentleman owned by the Duke of Ancaster

Thursday 5th May 1729 Nanny owned by Mr Egerton

Thursday 4th May 1730 Unnamed chestnut horse owned by Lord Gower

Thursday 3rd May 1731 Crab owned by the Duke of Ancaster

Thursday 1st May 1732 Driver owned by the Duke of Ancaster

Thursday 6th May 1728
Wallasey Stakes over 4 miles
1. Gentleman, grey horse owned by the Duke of Ancaster
2. Cripple, grey horse owned by Mr Mackworth
3. Bravo, chestnut horse owned by Sir N Curzon
4. Vulcan, grey horse owned by Mr Egerton
5. Favourite, bay horse owned by the Duke of Bridgewater
6. Terror, chestnut horse owned by Sir R Grosvenor

The final meeting took place on Tuesday 5th April 1785.
Course today

Today the old racecourse is covered by the successful Wallasey & Leasowes Golf courses, with Leasowe Castle to the West of the latter course.

If you have photos, postcards, racecards. badges, newspaper cuttings or book references about the old course, or can provide a photo of how the ground on which the old racecourse stood looks today, then email johnwslusar@gmail.com

Much of the information about this course has been found using internet research and is in the public domain. However, useful research sources have been:-

London Illustrated News

Racing Illustrated 1895-1899

The Sporting & Dramatic Illustrated

Northern Turf History Volumes 1-4 by J.Fairfax-Blakeborough

The Sporting Magazine

A Long Time Gone by Chris Pitt first published in 1996 ISBN 0 900599 89 8

Racing Calendars which were first published in 1727

ISBN 978-0-9957632-0-3

652 pages

774 former courses

ISBN 978-0-9957632-1-0

352 pages

400 former courses

ISBN 978-0-9957632-2-7

180 pages

140 former courses

ISBN 978-0-9957632-3-4

264 pages

235 former courses

Copies of the above books are only available by emailing johnwslusar@gmail.com stating your requirements, method of payment (cheque payable to W.Slusar) or Bank transfer, and the address where the book(s) should be sent.
ORDER FORM
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  Quantity Cost
Volume 1 North of Hatfield £19.99 + £4 postage    
Volume 2 South of Hatfield £14.99 + £3 postage    
Volume 3 Wales & Scotland £9.99 + £3 postage    
Volume 4 Ireland £9.99 + £3 postage    
Volumes 1 - 4 £54.96 + £5 postage    
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Email order form to johnwslusar@gmail.com