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Earliest meeting: Friday 8th June 1821
Final meeting: Saturday 4th September 1886
Prior to the first official race meeting taking place in the Scottish Borders town of Hawick in Roxburghshire, a Common Riding Festival was held annually in early June. It was the Scottish equivalent of ‘beating the bounds’, an activity first held in 1537 which, prior to 1752, traditionally took place on the last Friday in May, concluding at St Leonard’s Farm. The first occasion formal races from the town were reported in the Sporting Magazine was from the meeting on Friday 8th and Saturday 9th June 1821 when held on the Pelmarig course. At the two day meeting on Friday 10th and Saturday 11th June 1831 the Town Purse went to Mr Cochrane’s Rosebud, while the Purse of Gold fell to Captain Graham’s Charlie. Results were not noted in the Racing Calendar until the two day meeting on Friday 6th and Saturday 7th June 1866 when the Tradesmen’s Handicap went to Mr J Graham’s Tring and the Town Subscription Plate to Mr Reid’s Stiff.  These meetings took place on the St Leonard’s course, situated about two miles from the town centre. It was oval in shape with a viewing mound in the middle and a run-in of 350 yards. Unusually for a race meeting of that time, and indeed today, it started at 10.30 am. Meetings were then held for a continuous period of 20 years, including races organised by the local Border Mounted Rifles section founded by John Usher.  Hawick was used as a 10 day training camp for the regiment and they enjoyed spending their leisure time horse riding. Flat racing took place until the two day meeting on Friday 9th and Saturday 10th June 1876, and thereafter a National Hunt programme was offered. The final two day National Hunt meeting took place on Friday 3rd and Saturday 4th September 1886, although racing under Jockey Club rules had ceased by 1876, Hawick no longer able to offer the type of prizes, £300 in stake money, which the Jockey Club demanded.

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

Local Patrons

Mr John Usher, Captain J Graham

Principal Races Hawick Town Subscription Plate, Hawick Tradesmen's Handicap


Hawick Tradesmen’s Handicap
1. Tring owned by Mr J Graham
2. Stiff owned by Mr Reid
The winner was ridden by Megson, whilst the runner-up was piloted by G.Noble.

Saturday 7th June 1866
Hawick Town Subscription Plate over 1 ½ miles
1. Stiff, 5 year old owned by Mr Reid
2. Ward in Chancery, bay filly owned by Mr W Cradock
3. Miss Shafto, 4 year old owned by Mr H Rae

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

Course today Initially at Pelmarig and later at St Leonards.
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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