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Earliest meeting: Monday 20th July 1789
Final meeting: Saturday 23rd July 1814
The Northern Ireland village of Hillsborough is in County Down some 12 miles from Belfast.  Prior to 1661 it was known as Crumlin, but in 1650 Sir Arthur Hill built Hillsborough Fort and renamed Crumlin as Hillsborough in 1661. His family became known as the Earls of Hillsborough, and latterly the Marquises of Downshire. Early records in Baily’s Racing Register showed that races took place in Hillsborough as early as 1789. The six day meeting began on Monday 20th July with a King’s Plate over 4 miles in which Mr Daly’s Rutland defeated Hyder Ally and Fee-Fa-Fum. The next day the race was restricted to horses bred in county Down and went to Mr Savage’s Duchess of Leinster, while later in the week the Three Year Old Plate was contested over the Hillsborough Mile course and was won by Mr Lumm’s Lady Emily. The concluding day, Saturday 25th July was an exciting day with a second King’s Plate, this time over 2 miles, which went to Mr Lumm’s Honest Tom, and the Governor’s Plate over 3 miles which was captured by the day one hero Rutland. The venue was extremely important, annually staging two King’s Plates. On Tuesday 20th July 1802 the 4 mile Plate was won by Mr Kelly’s Mock-a-Doul, while the 2 mile Plate went to Mr Kirwan’s Traveller. The next year it was Lord Donegall’s turn to claim the major prize with Curb, but by 1805 the prestigious Plate had just the one entry, Mr Hamilton’s Fitz-Emily just had to walk over to claim the prize. Although meetings were billed as Hillsborough for a further nine years, racing ceased being labelled as Hillsborough after the card on Saturday 23rd July 1814 when His Majesty’s Plate was secured by Mr J R Hunter’s Tilbury on the Down course. The picture then became blurred with races advertised as Maze (1815), Down (1831), Down Royal and Maze Races on the Hillsborough course. At the Hillsborough meeting on Monday 25th July 1831 the racing stud of Mr William Montgomery was auctioned after racing, while the next year the Brownlow Cup was contested at Maze Races which were widely advertised as the Hillsborough Autumn meeting. Some high powered people had a vested interest in the meeting and at the meeting on Thursday 9th July 1835 Viscount Castlereagh donated the Cup.  The race attracted an entry of five, including Now or Never, Lanty, Lizzy and a Mameluke filly, but the most interesting entry was a gelding called Castlereagh, owned by Mr Maxwell. Whilst Hillsborough races continued in its various guises, the meetings are covered in this edition under Maze or Down Royal.

This racecourse is covered in Volume 4 of Racecourses Here Today and Gone Tomorrow. Ordering details shown below.
Local Patrons Lord Donegall, Viscount Castlereagh, Edward Savage, Mr Kirwan, Colonel Lumm
Principal Races King’s Plate 2 mile race, King’s Plate 4 mile race

Thursday 20th July 1789

Hillsborough King’s Plate
1 Rutland owned by Mr Daly
2 Hyder Ally owned by Mr Savage
3 Fee-Fa-Fum owned by Mr Conolly
The race was run over 2 heats and Rutland triumphed in both heats, defeating Fee-Fa-Fum in Heat 1 and Hyder Ally in the second heat.

Tuesday 20th July 1802

Hillsborough King’s Plate over 4 miles
1. Mock-a-Doul owned by Mr Kelly
2. Kate owned by Mr Pottinger

Hillsborough King’s Plate over 2 miles
1. Traveller owned by Mr Kirwan
2. His Lordship owned by Mr W.Whaley
3. Darling owned by Mr J.Whaley

Monday 18th and Saturday 23rd July 1803

His Majesty’s Plate over 4 miles
1. Drone owned by Mr Kirwan
2. Honest Nancy owned by Mr Pottinger
3. Lambinos owned by Mr Whaley

His Majesty’s Plate over 2 miles
1. Curb owned by Lord Donegall
2. Drone owned by Mr Kirwan
3. Silver-Toe owned by Colonel Lumm

Monday 22nd July 1805

His Majesty’s Plate over 4 miles
1. Fitz-Emily owned by Mr Hamilton walked over

The final meeting took place on 24th July 1814.
Course today Races were run in conjunction with the Hillsborough Fair on the Hillsborough mile course and the Down course.
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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Volume 2 South of Hatfield £14.99 + £3 postage    
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