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Earliest meeting: Monday 8th March 1830
Final meeting: Monday 8th March 1830
Wrest Park is a country estate located near Silsoe in Befordshire containing a Grade I Listed country house and extensive gardens. However, back in 1830 the Park was famous, along with its near neighbour Harlington, for being the two places which hosted the first steeplechase race in the country. The race took place on Monday 8th March 1830 and started on the hill next to Harlington Church, went passed the Bury Orchard and on to the winning post, which was the Obelisk in Wrest Park. The idea was mooted by Thomas Coleman from his hotel, called the Turf Hotel, and he worked in conjunction with officers from the 1st Life Guards. The race was structured so that the entry fee was 25 sovereigns and all horses would carry 12 stone over a course of not less than 4 miles.

This racecourse is covered in Volume 1 of Racecourses Here Today and Gone Tomorrow. Ordering details shown below.
Local Patrons Lord Clanricarde, Lord Ranelagh, Lord Belfast, Captain Becher, Captain MacDowall
Principal Races First Steeplechase run in the UK

8th March 1830

First Steeplechase over 4 miles
1. Wonder, grey gelding, owned by Lord Ranelagh and ridden by Captain MacDowall
2. Rockingham, brown gelding, owned by Mr Wombwell and ridden by Honourable A. Berkeley
3. Nailer, chestnut gelding, owned and ridden by Lord Clanricarde
4. Miss Doodle, chestnut mare, owned by Lord Belfast and ridden by Mr Haines
Also ran Bully, brown gelding, owned and ridden by Lord Ranelagh
Unnamed brown gelding owned and ridden by Mr Angerstein
Tatler, bay horse, owned by Mr Angerstein and ridden by Captain Becher
Giraffe, bay gelding, owned by Mr G Bulkeley and ridden by Mr Stubbs
Mowbray owned by Mr Bayturn and ridden by Mr White
Gambler, brown gelding, owned and ridden by Mr Crosby
Topthorn, bay gelding, owned and ridden by Mr Codrington
Blacksall Black, black gelding, owned and ridden by Mr Nesbitt
President owned by Mr Rothschild and ridden by Captain Blaine
Teddy the Tiler, bay gelding, owned and ridden by Mr Streathfield
Peveril of the Peak owned and ridden by Mr Thornhill

The final meeting took place on 8th March 1830.

Today the distance between Harlington church and Wrest Park by road is 6.9 miles, although from the hill near the church to the obelisk over land as the crow flies is about 4 miles, and a possible route is shown in red on the map below.

Course today A 4 mile course from Harlington to Wrest Park obelisk.
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

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