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Earliest meeting: Wednesday 15th November 1848
Final meeting: Tuesday 1st May 1866
The small Renfrewshire village of Houston is in the Central Lowlands of Scotland. Located 10 kilometres north-west of Paisley in the beautiful Gryffe Valley, it developed around a 16th century castle. In the mid-1800s Houston held its own race meetings under the guidance of Captain Spiers. The inaugural meeting, on good hunting ground, took place on Wednesday 15th November 1848 on the outskirts of the village at Gryffraes Farm. A special meeting was held on Thursday 22nd April 1858 in conjunction with the West of Scotland Steeplechases when a card of two races and a match was staged. One of those races, the West of Scotland Grand National, was contested over a 3 mile course containing 32 fences, principally intimidating stone walls, and laid the foundations for the Scottish Grand National. The Thirteen Stone Steeplechase was won by Mr Higginbotham’s Skylark, beating Lanark and Elastic, while the Twelve Stone Steeplechase, over the same 3 mile course, went to Mr Houldsworth’s Frenzy at the main expense of Cahirmee.  Races continued annually, although the meeting on Thursday 14th April 1859, and all future meetings, were organised in conjunction with the Lanarkshire and Renfrewshire Hunt groups. The 20 Sovereigns Steeplechase Cup was won by Mr J Houldsworth’s Frenzy from Skylark, while the more valuable 30 Sovereigns Cup went to Rathrobin. At the meeting on Friday 25th April 1862 the Houston Cup and Open Race were both secured by Mr J Houldsworth, the former with Seaman and the latter with Apricot. The final meeting was held on Tuesday 1st May 1866, after which a petition was sent to Captain Spiers from clergymen and resident church elders deprecating the continuance of steeplechasing. This proved effective and in 1867 the Houston races merged with the Eglinton Hunt.

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

Captain Spiers, Mr J Houldsworth

Principal Races Houston Cup, Houston Steeplechase Cup

Thursday 14th April 1859
Houston Steeplechase 30 Sovereigns Cup
1. Rathrobin, bay gelding owned by Mr C T Couper
2. Skylark, grey gelding owned by Mr C Higginbotham
3. Cahirmee, bay gelding owned by Mr S Calder

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

The final meeting took place on Tuesday 1st May 1866.
Course today On good hunting ground at Gryffraes Farm.
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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  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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