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Earliest meeting: Wednesday 6th July 1825
Final meeting: Friday 12th March 1880
The south west of England city of Bristol, a unitary authority within its own right, was previously in the county of Somerset, and before that Gloucestershire. At the confluence of the Rivers Avon and Frome, it is steeped in history, with Iron Age hill forts and Roman Villas having been built nearby. It first staged races jointly with Bath from Wednesday 6th to Friday 8th July 1825 when the Somersetshire Stakes was won by Mr C Day’s Sloe, while the Bristol St Leger, over a mile, went to Burgundy for Mr Day. In 1827 the meeting was billed as ‘Clifton and Bristol races’ when staged on Thursday 26th April. That meeting began with the Bristol Stakes won by Burton, while the Yeomanry Cup was won by Mr Niblett’s Duchess. The first time Clifton and Bristol races were included in Baily's Racing Register was in 1829 when the prestigious Clifton Stakes, over 2 miles, saw John Peel’s Little Bo-Peep overcome the determined challenge of Busk. Meetings continued until 10th May 1838 after which racing lapsed, returning in 1856 as the Bristol and Somerset meeting. On Wednesday 19th March 1873 a new racecourse at Knowle, complete with a grandstand capable of accommodating over 3000 people, was opened in the presence of the Prince of Wales. The National Hunt Chase Challenge Cup, over 4 miles and 24 fences, is now contested at the annual Cheltenham Festival in March, but in 1873 it was held at Bristol when won by Pickles, ridden by Captain Arthur Tempest. The exciting new venture was widely supported by the locals in the early days, but gradually crowd numbers dwindled and the company operating the project began sustaining heavy losses. They first considered winding up procedures in 1878, although the final meeting was staged on Friday 12th March 1880, after which results were so bad that the course closed.

This racecourse is covered in Volume 2 of Racecourses Here Today and Gone Tomorrow. Ordering details shown below.
Local Patrons Prince of Wales, Colonel Charritie, Mr John Peel
Principal Races Bristol St Leger, Claret Stakes, Clifton Stakes, Bristol Handicap Stakes

Tuesday 12th to Wednesday 13th May 1829

The Clifton Stakes over 2 miles
1. Little Bo-Peep owned by Mr J.H.Peel
2. Busk owned by Mr I.Daly
3. Pelican owned by Mr Dickinson
4. Maid of Mansfield owned by Mr Thorne
5. Panderus owned by Mr Dilly
6. Profile owned by Mr Hiard
7. Lawrence owned by Mr Radclyffe
8. Fadladeen owned by Mr Finch
9. Goblet owned by Mr Bulkeley
10. Little Boy-Blue owned by Mr J.H.Peel
11. Eastgrove owned by Mr Pickernell

The Claret Stakes over 2 miles
1. Eastgrove owned by Mr Pickernell
2. Moses owned by Mr Finch

Wednesday 1st & Thursday 2nd May 1833

Claret Stakes over 2 miles
1. Reform owned by Mr Newman
2. Swing owned by Colonel Charritie

The Clifton Stakes over 2 miles
1. The Witch owned by Mr W Smith
2. Little Blue Boy owned by Mr Day
3. Lucy owned by Mr J H Peel

The Bristol Handicap Stakes over 2 miles
1. The Witch owned by Mr W Smith
2. Flora owned by Mr Reeve
3. Dictator owned by Mr Harris

The National Hunt Chase Challenge Cup, over 4 miles and 24 fences, is now contested at the annual Cheltenham Festival in March, but in 1873 it was held at Bristol, and the result is shown below.
1873 Pickles ridden by Captain Arthur Tempest

The final meeting took place on 23rd April 1878
I am grateful to Robin Charnock for the images shown above, which indicate early races taking place in the Bristol and Clifton area.
Course today Initially at Clifton and the later at Knowle.
Bristol circa 1873 from the London Illustrated News
Bristol circa 1873 from the London Illustrated News

The front cover/ principal races from this rare racecard are provided courtesy of the Robert Shaw collection.

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

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

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