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Earliest meeting: 1710
Final meeting: Wednesday 29th March 1911
The earliest recorded meeting held at Ipswich was in 1710 when a Town Purse was contested by ‘high mettled racers’. The Ipswich Journal regularly advertised meetings and provided detailed results, including jockeys colours, from the 1720s. One such results sheet from the meeting held on Tuesday 11th May 1725 is shown below courtesy of the Ipswich Journal and British Newspaper Online. By 1727, when the Historical Races List was first published, a Royal Plate was contested and the local paper, the Ipswich Journal, printed that ‘A new grandstand was available called The Gentleman’s Stand and could be accessed for 2 shillings and sixpence’. The course was to the east of Ipswich on Nacton Heath and was a mile and 7 furlongs in circumference. Baily’s Racing Register first provided detailed results from races held at Ipswich in 1727.  The meetings received the support of noblemen, landed gentry and racing characters of the day, and the principal race was His Majesty’s Purse which was thereafter contested annually. On Friday 6th June 1727 it was won by Mr Pelham’s Foxhunter; on Monday 1st July 1782 by the Duke of Queensberry’s Guido, and on Tuesday 6th July 1824 by Colonel Wilson’s Oscar.The last Flat meeting was on Tuesday 3rd April 1883, after which the course hosted only National Hunt racing until the final meeting on Wednesday 29th March 1911.

This racecourse is covered in Volume 1 of Racecourses Here Today and Gone Tomorrow. Ordering details shown below.
Local Patrons

Duke of Queensberry, Duke of Grafton, Duke of Somerset, Lord Hamilton, Sir Charles Bunbury, Colonel Wilson, Lord Tankerville

Principal Races Her Majesty's 100 Guineas Plate, His Majesty's Purse

The newspaper extract below is shown courtesy of the Ipswich Journal and British Newspaper Online.

Friday 6th June 1727

His Majesty’s Plate for 100 Guineas over 2 miles
Foxhunter owned by Mr Pelham
Unnamed brown colt owned by Lord Tankerville
Brown Betty owned by The Duke of Somerset

The King’s Plates, valued at 100 guineas, were a series of annual races which date from the time of Charles II and continued in some form or other up to 1887. From the publication of the first Racing Calendar in 1727 by John Cheny, up to 1751, the Plates were restricted to 6 year olds each carrying 12 stone and were run over three 4 mile heats. In 1751 they were staged at Guildford, Hambleton, Ipswich, Lewes, Lincoln, 3 at Newmarket, Nottingham, Winchester and York. After 1751 younger horses were permitted to run in King’s Plates, with 5 year olds allocated 10 stone and four year olds 9 stone.

20th to 22nd July 1762

Ipswich 2 and a quarter mile Purse
1. Antonius owned by the Duke of Grafton
2. Unnamed filly owned by Mr Croft
3. Helpless owned by Mr Panton
The winner wore Sky Blue and was beaten in the first heat, but then won the next two to claim the prize.

Monday 1st to Wednesday 3rd July 1782

His Majesty’s Purse run over 2 and a quarter miles
1. Guido owned by the Duke of Queensberry
2. Puzzle owned by the Duke of Grafton
3. Sweetmarjoram owned by Sir Charles Bunbury
The winner wore Deep Red with Black cap, the second Black and the third Pink and White Stripes.

Ipswich Gentlemens’ Purse over 4 miles
1. Flush owned by Mrs Price
2. Nephew owned by Sir Charles Bunbury

The history of steeplechasing in the town dates back to 1805 when between 8,000 and 10,000 soldiers were quartered in Ipswich Barracks, located on the right hand and left hand sides of the Woodbridge Road, adjacent to the Duke of York public house. A course, marked out by 4 large metal plates produced by Ackermann of The Strand, stretched from the Barracks to Nacton church steeple, across country fields, crossing the main road, over ditches and hedges. The jockeys provided a wonderful spectacle, dressed in white night shirts and white tasselled caps.

Tuesday 6th to Thursday 8th July 1824

Ipswich Majesty’s Plate over 4 miles
1. Oscar owned by Colonel Wilson walked over

Ipswich Plate over 2 and a quarter miles
1. Isabella owned by Mr R Wilson
2. Sir George owned by Mr Goodisson

Course today

Initially on the eastern side of the town on Nacton Heath, and then adjacent to the Cobham Road and Lindberg Road. Up to 2009 the Racecourse Pub was still operating.

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

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:-

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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