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Earliest meeting: Wednesday 27th August 1783
Final meeting: Tuesday 14th April 1857
Dorchester, the historic county town of Dorset, lies on the River Frome midway between Poole and Bridport. The first recorded races took place on Wednesday 27th and Thursday 28th August 1783 on a course which was situated a mile from Dorchester towards Fordington, off the A35 London Road and Styer’s Lane. Both races were over a demanding 4 mile course and were won by Dormouse and Reptile. By 1822 results were being included in Baily's Racing Register when the meeting was known as the Dorchester and Chatham meeting. The rector of St George’s Church, on High Street Fordington near Dorchester from 1829 to 1880 was Reverend Henry Moule. He hated the thought of people drinking and gambling, campaigning to stop Dorchester Races in the 1830s. The racecourse held its final meeting on 14th September 1838. Later, at Waddon Vale, the Dorchester Races continued from 1856 to 1857, with a final meeting on Tuesday 14th April 1857.

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

Lord Palmerston, Kings Irish Hussars, Captain Campbell

Principal Races Dorchester City Plate, Chatham Town Plate, Tradesmen's Plate, Ladies Plate, King's Royal Irish Hussars Plate

27th – 28th August 1783

Dorchester £50 Plate over 4 miles
1 Dormouse owned by Mr Kingsbury

Dorchester £50 Stakes over 4 miles
1 Reptile owned by Mr Parker

Thursday 29th August 1822

Dorchester City Plate over 2 miles
1. Legal Tender owned by Mr Tyrone Jones

Chatham Town Plate over 2 miles
1. Gift owned by Mr Brown

Monday 4th October to Tuesday 5th October 1824

Dorchester Tradesmen’s Plate over 2 and a quarter miles
1. Agnes owned by Mr Cockburn
2. Black and all Black owned by Mr Farquharson
3. Biondetta owned by Lord Palmerston

Dorchester Ladies Plate over 2 and a quarter miles
1. Franconi owned by Captain Campbell
2. Masquerader owned by Mr Radclyffe
3. Unnamed filly by Waterloo owned by Mr Farquharson

King’s Royal Irish Hussars Plate over 3 miles
1. Agnes owned by Mr Cockburn
2. Franconi owned by Captain Campbell
3. Isabella owned by Mr H Smith

Thursday 13th September & Friday 14th September 1838

Dorchester Stakes over 2 ¼ miles
1. Joannina owned by Lord Villiers
2. Mervan owned by Captain Williamson
3. Rattle owned by Mr W Ley

Dorchester Silver Bowl over 1 ½ miles
1. Arctic owned by Mr Galpin
2. Caroline owned by Mr G Harding
3. Queen of the Valley owned by Mr John Harding

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

Later at Waddon Vale the Dorchester Races continued from 1856 to 1857.

The final meeting took place on Tuesday 14th April 1857.

Note that further meetings were held on Primrose Hill under the direction of the South Oxford Hunt committee. See South Oxford
Course today A mile from the town centre towards Fordingham.
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:-

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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