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Earliest meeting: 1662
Final meeting: Wednesday 13th October 1847
Dumfries is a Scottish market town and former royal burgh in the Dumfries and Galloway region. Racing has taken place in the area since 1662 when farmers decided to race their cart horses against each other to provide entertainment. It was immediately accepted by the good folks of Dumfries, for just two years later a cup was introduced involving superior quality horses. Meetings were initially billed as Dumfries, but later the races were organised by the Caledonian Hunt Club and after 1853 by the Dumfriesshire Hunt Committee. Whilst detailed records of early Dumfries races are scarce, it is known that horses raced for the Dumfries Bell before 1662, and that in that year it was decided that any horse winning it on 3 occasions would keep the Bell. Just two years later in 1664 the Dumfries Silver Cup was introduced. A number of Scottish meets were organised by the Caledonian Hunt Club, organising Dumfries Races in 1792, again in 1794 and 1796 and then frequently up to their final meeting in 1844. By 1815 the meeting was at the height of its popularity, extending to 5 days from Tuesday 10th to Saturday 14th October. Sir Alexander Don won the 2 mile Dumfries Handicap with his Orville colt, while the prestigious Dumfries 50 Guineas Purse saw The Marquis of Queensberry’s King David just touched off by Mr Hutchison’s gelding. Up to 1844 the course was a one mile round course which was flat and most suitable for racing, but a new course was used for the last 3 years. The final meeting took place on Wednesday 13th October 1847, although just 6 years later the Dumfriesshire Hunt Group held their opening meeting at Leafields.

This racecourse is covered in Volume 3 of Racecourses Here Today and Gone Tomorrow. Ordering details shown below.
Local Patrons

Marquis of Queensberry, Sir William Maxwell, Sir Alexander Don, Sir David Blair, Duke of Buccleugh, Sir W Maxwell. Sir J H Maxwell

Principal Races Dumfries Gold Cup, Dumfries Handicap, County Members Plate

Although races were certainly contested in Dumfries in 1662, it is the period between 1700 and 1847 that we have the most detailed information about Dumfries Races.
1728 A 4-day meeting was staged on what was referred to as the ordinary course, clearly a well-established course on Tinwald Downs, between Tuesday 1st October and Friday 4th October 1728.
1737 A 20 Guineas Subscription Purse for Hunters was run on the usual course.
1788 A 4-day meeting took place on Tinwald Downs between Tuesday 21st October 1788 and Friday 24th October 1788. On the first day the main event was for 100 Guineas and saw Mr Baird's Sir Falstaff defeat Lord Eglington's Count Caolbro. At the end of that racing week a 50 Guineas Purse had the following result:-
1. RATTLER owned by Mr Baird of Newbyth 1 2 1
2. SIR ANDREW owned by Mr Hamilton of Wishaw 2 1 2
3. THOROUGH owned by Duke of Hamilton 3 3 3
1789-1814 Race meetings were held annually on the old Tinwald Downs Course
1815-1844 A new one mile flat round course was established on Tinwald Downs.
1845-1847 For a 3-year period races were held on what was described as a new course on Tinwald Downs. This would be at least the third course on the Downs.
1848 As a consequence of the Dumfries Handicap not filling, no races were organized this year, and in the event Wednesday 13th October 1847 proved to be the last year of Flat races held at Dumfries on Tinwald Downs.
It was a further 5 years before races returned to the Dumfries area, albeit in the form of hunting meetings, steeplechase meetings and, eventually, point-to-point meetings. Whilst there is little doubt that Tinwald Downs had been the site of established racecourses, the Dumfriesshire Hunt meetings were nomadic. It is certain that the meetings held near Lockerbie were on an established course, other meetings were staged on courses which were just used for a single year, although the courses at Collin and Carnsalloch appeared to be more settled.
1853-1859 On Friday 26th May 1858 a typical meeting for this 7 year period was held at Leafields on a one mile round course containing 6 strong fences on land owned by W F Carruthers. For one of these years the meeting was held at Dalton.
1860-1885 In April 1860 the Dumfries meeting was switched to a course 2 miles from Lockerbie beside the farmhouse of Muirhouse End. On some years during this period the meeting moved nearer to Collin, and even as late as Tuesday 2nd April 1901 the meeting was staged near Lockerbie. However, the meeting held on Tuesday 31st March 1885 appears to have been the last meeting to be held at Lockerbie for some considerable time, after which the meeting became nomadic, as detailed below.
1886-1888 Meetings were staged in the neighbourhood of Collin, 3 miles from Dumfries, over a 4-mile course between Dinwoodie Lodge and Muirhousehead. The first such meeting took place on Tuesday 20th April 1886 and the last, during this short period, on Tuesday 17th April 1888.
1889 This year the meeting took place on Monday 25th March 1889 at Ecclefechan, in the parish of Hoddom, on a 3-mile course managed by Mr Salkeld and Mr T A Lyon, stretching from Brown Moor to Barrhill
1890 The meeting this year was held at Kirtlebridge on Saturday 15th March 1890
1891 The March meeting this year was staged on Tuesday 17th March 1891 at Stapleton on James Mitchell's Nutberry Farm.
1892 The meeting returned to Collin on Saturday 9th April 1892
1893 The meeting was held on Saturday 18th March 1893 on a 3 mile course at Parkend Road End on the Lochmaben and Dalton Road
1894 This is the first record of a meeting taking place at a more established course at Riggfoot, Carnsalloch on Saturday 24th March 1894
1895 The meeting continued at Riggfoot on Saturday 13th April 1895
1896 This year the meeting, held on Tuesday 17th March 1896, was held in Middlebie parish, starting at Waterbeck
1897-1898 For two consecutive years the meeting returned to the Riggfoot course, Carnsalloch, some 4 miles from Dumfries. The meetings were held on Friday 16th April 1897 and Saturday 9th April 1898
1899 This year the meeting was staged on Saturday 1st April 1899 at Hoddom on the estate of Mr Brook.
1900-1914 Apart from the aforementioned 1901 meeting at Lockerbie, the meeting was regularly staged at Justinlees.

Tuesday 10th to Saturday 14th October 1815

Dumfries Purse over 2 miles
1. Unnamed gelding owned by Mr Hutchison
2. King David owned by the Marquis of Queensberry
3. Unnamed filly by Remembrancer owned by Mr Boast

Dumfries Handicap over a mile
1. Unnamed Colt by Orville owned by Sir Alexander Don
2. Irthing Lass owned by Mr Bell
3. Carrick owned by Sir David Blair

Thursday 21st October to Friday 22nd October 1824

Dumfries County Members Plate over 2 miles
1. Springkell owned by Sir J H Maxwell walked over

Dumfries 50 pound Plate over a mile and a furlong
1. Gay Momus owned by Mr Ferguson
2. La Grisette owned by Mr Alexander
3. Springkell owned by Sir J H Maxwell

James Whyte’s History of the British Turf notes that racing took place at Dumfries, some 71 miles from Edinburgh, in 1788 in what was then described as their Southern meeting. Whyte records the1839 races as:-
Dumfries Gold Cup over 2 miles;
Southern Meeting Purse over a mile and a half;
Duke of Buccleugh Stakes over 2 miles;

I am grateful to John & Nicky Oliver for the 1828 map above which forms part of the David Rumsey Collection. The 3 maps indicate a range of locations for the Tinwald Downs racecourse over time. It is already known that there were at least 2, and possibly 3, different racecourses spread over amost 2 centuries.
The final meeting took place on Wednesday 13th October 1847
Course today A perfectly flat one mile round course on Tinwald Down, one of at least 3 courses established on Tinwald Downs between 1662 and 1847.
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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