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Earliest meeting: Sunday 20th April 2008
Final meeting: Monday 29th December 2008
Situated near Chelmsford in Essex, Great Leighs racecourse opened for business on 20th April 2008 and was the first racecourse to be opened in England for 81 years, the previous being Taunton in 1927. It was the brainchild of John Holmes and his ambition was to serve an area of the country not previously served by a course. Indeed the Great Leighs course was ideally positioned for the Newmarket trainers, barely 80 kilometres away, and for the punters of Greater London. It boasted a grandstand capable of serving 10,000 people and an all weather polytrack course of just slightly more than a mile around. From day one the course hit setbacks having previously been due to open two years earlier in October 2006. To ensure that there were no hitches once it opened to the public, a day only for invited guests was arranged for 4th April 2008. However, this had to be changed and was rescheduled for Sunday 20th April. All went well at the meeting and the first public meeting took place on Monday 29th December 2008. Despite being ideally placed it failed to secure the numbers expected and was placed in administration in January 2009.

This racecourse is covered in Volume 2 of Racecourses Here Today and Gone Tomorrow. Ordering details shown below.
Local Patrons John Holmes
Principal Races Mulled Wine Stakes

Monday 29th December 2008
Mulled Wine Stakes
1. Chalice Welcome ridden by Hayley Turner
2. Jiminor Mack ridden by Andrea Atzeni
3. Itsawindup ridden by E Creighton

The final meeting took place on Monday 29th December 2008.
Course today Near Colchester in Essex.
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

Copies of the above books are only available by emailing 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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  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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