WINCHESTER RACECOURSE

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Earliest meeting: April 1664
Final meeting: Wednesday 13th July 1887
The earliest record of racing in Winchester was in April 1664, although no further details were provided. Records then lapse until a two-day meeting was held in August 1676, starting on Wednesday 26th August with the Winchester Plate over 4 miles, whilst on the Thursday 27th August there was a Contributors Plate. In September 1683 Winchester races became Royal Winchester when King Charles II attended, and by the latter part of the 17th Century races were held annually towards the end of August. In 1699 the meeting had certainly extended over two days, on Wednesday 26th August 1699 there was an £80 Selling Plate and a £20 Selling Plate, while the next day, Thursday 27th August 1699, the Winchester Town plate was held. Baily’s Racing Register first provided detailed results from races held at Winchester on Friday 15th August 1727 with the prestigious His Majesty’s 100 Guineas Plate falling to Bald Charlotte, owned by Mr Henley, who beat the unfortunately named Hobbler. The Historical List of Horse Races and Matches of 1751 recorded the 4-Day meeting which took place from Friday 11th to Monday 14th June 1751 when the prestigious Fifth King’s One Hundred Guineas of the season was won by Mr Robinson’s Sampson. The extensive course of 2 miles in length with a 6 furlong straight, much of it uphill, was located four miles north of the city, near the village of South Wonston close to Worthy Down army camp. Races continued to be popular and well supported for a further 130 years. A particularly impotant race was staged on Tuesday 6th July 1824 featuring Milto who had come third in the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket when beaten by Cobweb and Rebecca. In the Winchester Yearling Stakes over a mile Milto won as she pleased from Mr Fellowes Colossus filly. Although the final meeting took place on Wednesday 13th July 1887, the grandstand still existed until 1917 when the wood was used to build some racecourse cottages in the village.

This racecourse is covered in Volume 2 of Racecourses Here Today and Gone Tomorrow. Ordering details shown below.

Local Patrons

Lord Palmerston who in 1824 was Secretary at war but later became Foreign Secretary and was twice Prime Minister, Duke of Richmond, Colonel Lautour, Duke of Bolton, Sir F Poole, Sir William Howe, Captain Bertie, Captain Champreaux, Lord Craven, Lord Baltimore, Lord Grosvenor

Principal Races St Leger, Hampshire Stakes, Drayton Stakes, Kings One Hundred Guineas

Friday 15th August 1727

His Majesty’s 100 Guineas Plate
1. Bald Charlotte owned by Mr Henley
2. Hobbler owned by Mr Waters

The King’s Plates, valued at 100 guineas, were a series of annual races which date from the time of Charles II and continued in some form or other up to 1887. From the publication of the first Racing Calendar in 1727 by John Cheny, up to 1751, the Plates were restricted to 6 year olds each carrying 12 stone and were run over three 4 mile heats. In 1751 they were staged at Guildford, Hambleton, Ipswich, Lewes, Lincoln, 3 at Newmarket, Nottingham, Winchester and York. After 1751 younger horses were permitted to run in King’s Plates, with 5 year olds allocated 10 stone and four year olds 9 stone.

Friday 11th June to Monday 14th June 1751

Fifth Kings One Hundred Guineas of the Season
1. Sampson owned by Mr Robinson walked over

Winchester £50 Purse
1. Little Driver owned by Mr Josiah Marshall
2. Cornwall owned by Sir John Phillips
3. Gift owned by Lord Craven

Winchester £50 Hunters Plate over 4 miles
1. Cumberland owned by Mr Churchill
2. Unnamed grey horse by Fearnought owned by Lord Eglington
3. Whipper-In owned by Mr Anthony Langley Swymmer

The Country Subscription Plate over 4 miles
1. Little Janus owned by Mr Anthony Langley Swymmer
2. Snip owned by Lord March
3. Spinner owned by Mr Stephens

15th to 17th June 1762

Winchester Kings Guineas over 4 miles
1. Leeds owned by Mr Wildman walked over

Winchester 2 mile Purse
1. Valiant owned by Lord Craven
2. Harmony owned by Lord Baltimore
3. Belford owned by Lord Grosvenor

Tuesday 16th to Friday 19th July 1782

Winchester City Purse run over 4 miles
1. Warwick owned by Mr Boyce
2. Crop owned by Mr Pittman
3. Jockey owned by Mr Clarke

Winchester Noblemen & Gentlemens’ Purse over 2 miles
1. Cottager owned by Mr Compton
2. Courser owned by Mr Smith
3. Shag owned by Captain Bertie

Tuesday 6th to Thursday 8th July 1824

Winchester Yearling Stakes over a mile
1. Milto owned by Mr Fulwar Craven
2. Unnamed filly by Colossus owned by Mr Fellowes
Earlier in the year Milto had come third in the 1000 Guineas at Newmarket when beaten by Cobweb abd Rebecca.

Winchester Majesty’s Plate over 4 miles
1. Codicil owned by Mr Shard
2. Langtonian owned by Colonel Lautour
3. Unnamed colt by Clucher owned by Mr F Craven

Winchester St Leger Stakes over a mile and a half
1. Longwaist owned by Mr F Craven
2. Anticipation owned by Mr Dundas
Earlier in the year Anticipation had finished 16 in the Epsom Derby won by Cedric

Winchester Hampshire Stakes over 2 miles
1. Lozborough owned by Lord Palmerston
2. Longwaist owned by Mr F Craven
3. Black and all Black owned by Mr Farquharson

Winchester Drayton Stakes over 6 furlongs
1. Masquerader owned by Mr Radclyffe
2. Swindon owned by the Duke of Richmond
3. Blandford owned by Mr Fleming

The picture below, from 1831, is one of a series of racehorse paintings by famous sporting artists, including Abraham Cooper, John Ferneley, John Frederick Herring, James Seymour, John Wootton and, perhaps most famous of them all, George Stubbs.

James Whyte’s History of the British Turf notes that Winchester racecourse is situated on Worthy Down on the Oxford Road, about 4 miles from the city centre, records the mid-July 1839 races as:-
The Produce Stakes over a mile;
The Hampshire Stakes over 2 miles;
The Hunters Stakes over a mile and a half;
The City Members Plate over 2 miles;
The Forced Handicap over 6 furlongs.

I am grateful to Ordnance Survey (© Crown Copyright) for permission to use the map shown below.

Although the final meeting took place on 13th July 1887 the grandstand still existed until 1917 when the wood was used to build some racecourse cottages in the village.

Course today A two mile course located 4 miles north of the city. Cottages stand on the course today
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:-

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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