WEST KENT WOODLAND HUNT RACECOURSE

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Earliest meeting: Thursday 26th April 1866
Final meeting: Saturday 7th April 1888
The West Kent Woodland Hunt Group came into being in 1870 and hunted mainly in the Tunbridge Wells area of the county. In the latter part of the 1800s the Hunt became known as the Eridge Hunt and broadened their interest beyond foxhunting and into racing. Initially the West Kent joined forces with Sevenoaks to stage meetings on Greatness Park owned by Richard Russell. The meetings started on Thursday 26th April 1866 and continued at the same venue for 20 years until the final meeting on Wednesday 13th May 1885 when the Military Chase was won by Mr W Anderson’s The Saint, while the Open Hunters Chase went to Muscovite, who beat Ballot Box and Apollo. The next year the West Kent Hunt Group had switched their allegiance to Eridge. The Eridge Hunt Steeplechases, although known as the West Kent Hunt meeting at this stage, were run on the Eridge Castle estate at Steel Bridge Farm. The inaugural meeting took place on Monday 26th April 1886. Principal races at that meeting were the West Kent Woodland Hunt Cup and the Eridge Plate. For the next 2 years the races continued under the West Kent name until Saturday 7th April 1888, but in 1889 they were renamed the Eridge Hunt meeting.

This racecourse is covered in Volume 2 of Racecourses Here Today and Gone Tomorrow. Ordering details shown below.
Local Patrons Earl of Abergavenny, Lord Neville, Mr E Mildmay
Principal Races Eridge Plate, West Kent Woodland Hunt Cup

Wednesday 13th May 1885
West Kent Hunt Cup over 2 ½ miles
1. Saturn, 5 year old owned by Mr W Butler
2. Kildare, aged horse owned by Mr H Leney
3. Polly, aged mare owned by Lord Neville

That first meeting of the Eridge Hunt was held on 22nd April 1889. Meetings continued, with some lapses, until 1911 when the meeting was held on 17th April of that year. The 1912 meeting was cancelled due to a coal strike.

The final official meeting took place on 17th April 1911, although Bona Fide meetings continued afterwards.

Course today

Initially on Greatness Park, near Sevenoaks, and latterly on the Eridge Castle estate at Steel Bridge Farm. Eridge Castle was demolished prior to the start of the Second World War so that a modern house could be built instead.

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.
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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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