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Earliest meeting: Saturday 30th April 1842
Final meeting: Tuesday 9th July 1850
The tiny village and civil parish of Writtle in Essex is less than 2 kilometres west of Chelmsford. It is a beautiful village with a Norman church, ancient cottages and a large park called Hylands Park. The first occasion the village held a race meeting was on Saturday 30th April 1842 when a 3 mile all grass steeplechase course began at Horsefrith Park, owned by Mr James Livermore, and continued over fields owned by Mr Reeve and Mr Moss. In all, on the circuitous route, there were 22 leaps, and the race attracted 8 runners. It was won by Gone Away from One-Eyed Lass, but tragedy struck when the leader, Mr Bazier’s Rose Bud, fell at a ditch and was killed on the spot. The village next held races for a 7 year period beginning in 1844 on a course at Oxney Green, complete with a large grandstand reserved for ‘the noble, the gentle and the fair’. By 1848 the meetings were extremely popular and an immense crowd in their thousands withnessed The Streamer take the opening Sweepstake. The later Thorndon Cup was won by Oliver Cromwell defeating Chevy Chance and Mary Blaine. After the meeting 600 guests dined in a massive booth erected in an adjacent meadow served by Mr Amery from the Black Boy Inn, Chelmsford. The final meeting was held on Tuesday 9th July 1850 and it was a sombre occasion due to the recent demise of its patron and founder Lord Petre. The last Writtle Handicap was won by Cast-Off and the final Thornton Cup by Diana. There are many reasons why a meeting ceases to be, but this one falls firmly in the camp of ‘enlightened individual at the helm ran out of energy or life’.

This racecourse is covered in Volume 2 of Racecourses Here Today and Gone Tomorrow. Ordering details shown below.
Local Patrons Lord Petre, Lord Camoys
Principal Races Writtle Handicap, Thorndon Cup, Writtle Sweepstake

Tuesday 11th July 1848
Writtle Handicap over 1 ¾ miles
1. Redleg, brown gelding owned by Mr White
2. Iapis, 3 year old owned by Mr Higgins
3. Royalty, 5 year old owned by Captain Sand

The final meeting took place on Tuesday 9th July 1850.
Course today Course, complete with large grandstand, was at Oxney Green.
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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