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Earliest meeting: Tuesday 22nd May 1838
Final meeting: Wednesday 21st May 1845
The village of Gorhambury was situated less than 3 miles from the City of St Albans, but in 1838 became extremely important in the minds of the racing elite. Prior to this date St Albans Racecourse had held a prominent position in the Racing Calendar, but racing ceased in June 1837 and the nobility needed a new course to test their thoroughbreds. Racing first took place at Gorhambury Park, near St Albans, in 1838, and it was unusual for a first meeting to be included in Baily’s Racing Register, but the inaugural Gorhambury meeting was included, probably due to it replacing the important St Albans meeting. Gorhambury Park and Mansion was the Parliamentary seat of the Earl of Verulam which he bought from Lord Bacon. The mansion was described as ‘in the Corinthian order, with 2 wings, built between 1778 and 1785 by Sir Robert Taylor’. The extensive, lavish racecourse was set in the 600 acres of the Gorhambury Estate and had no less than 5 distinct courses; the Fir Clump course was 2 miles in length; The Lime Kiln course was a mile and a half; the Cherry Tree Course was a mile and a yard; the TYC was a 5 furlong sprint course, whilst The Stand Course was 2 miles in circumference. The principal race was the Gorhambury Handicap which, in May 1844, was won by The Devil to Pay owned by Lord George Bentick, defeating both the Duke of Grafton and Lord Verulam. The final meeting was held on Wednesday 21st May 1845. The House and Estate remain the home of the Earl of Verulam.

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

Duke of Rutland, Marquis of Exeter, Marquis of Worcester, Earl of Chesterfield, Earl of March, Earl of Verulam, Lord George Bentinck, Duke of Grafton

Principal Races Gorhambury Handicap, Gorhambury Stakes, The Park Stakes, Craven Stakes

Tuesday 22nd to Wednesday 23rd May 1838

Craven Stakes over a mile
1. Gimcrack owned by Mr Stevens
2. Cornborough owned by Mr Garrard
3. Bullcalf owned by Lord Albemarle

The Gorhambury Stakes over 1 ½ miles
1. Toothill owned by Colonel Gardnor
2. Hectic owned by Mr V.King
3. Mus owned by the Duke of Richmond
4. Cowboy owned by Lord Suffield
11/8 Cowboy, 3/1 Mus, 5/1 Toothill

The Stand Stakes over 2 miles
1. Bravo owned by Mr G.Hennesey
2. Sir Felix owned by Mr Bacon
3. Anne owned by Mr Adams
2/5 Bravo

The Verulam Stakes over the Cherry-Tree course
1. Wave owned by Colonel Peel
2. Ochiltree owned by Captain Gardnor
3. Cornborough owned by Mr Garrard
1/2 Ochiltree, 5/1 Wave

Tuesday 21st & Wednesday 22nd May 1844

Gorhambury Handicap
1. The Devil to Pay owned by Lord George Bentinck
2. Cataract owned by the Duke of Grafton
3. Robert de Gorham owned by Lord Verulam

The Park Stakes over 5 furlongs & 136 yards
1. The Maid of Orleans owned by Mr John Day
2. Bastion owned by Mr Hook
3. Corinthian Tom owned by Mr May

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

The sketch below is of Gorhambury Races in May 1844 and is shown courtesy of the London Illustrated News and was supplied by John Griffiths.
The final meeting was held on Wednesday 21st May 1845.
Course today

Gorhambury Park

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.
Download an order form
  Quantity Cost
Volume 1 North of Hatfield £19.99 + £4 postage    
Volume 2 South of Hatfield £14.99 + £3 postage    
Volume 3 Wales & Scotland £9.99 + £3 postage    
Volume 4 Ireland £9.99 + £3 postage    
Volumes 1 - 4 £54.96 + £5 postage    
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