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Earliest meeting: Thursday 4th April 1851
Final meeting: Wednesday 29th April 1857
Kilmarnock, a large burgh on the River Irvine in East Ayrshire, is most famous as the town where the first collection of work by Robbie Burns was published in 1786. It also hosted race meetings which were billed as ‘The West of Scotland race meetings’. They were a nomadic group of meetings held for 15 years under rules, and a number of years after that date when pony and trotting races were also included on the card. The inaugural meeting was held at Kilmarnock on Tuesday 4th April 1851 when over 12,000 racegoers were present. The principal Grand Caledonian Steeplechase over 3 ½ miles of fair hunting ground was won by Mr J Laing’s Johnnie Barrie, while the Hunt Handicap Chase saw Petticoat beat Little John and Minnie. Meetings were staged annually, most often at Kilmarnock, but on Thursday 10th April 1856 the meeting took place at Riccarton, on the opposite side of the river to Kilmarnock, when Fanny Wynne won the Grand Caledonian. The final meeting to be staged at Kilmarnock was on Wednesday 29th April 1857, although races under the banner of ‘West of Scotland’ did continue after this date but the programmes were mixed.

This racecourse is covered in Volume 3 of Racecourses Here Today and Gone Tomorrow. Ordering details shown below.
Local Patrons Captain Tait, Major Hamilton, Captain Hamilton
Principal Races Grand Caledonian Handicap Steeplechase, Kilmarnock Plate

Thursday 4th April 1851
Grand Caledonian Steeplechase over 3 ½ miles
1. Johnnie Barrie, chestnut gelding owned by Mr J Laing
2. Petticoat, grey mare owned by Mr J Donaldson
3. Isaac, grey gelding owned by Mr Ternan

The final meeting took place on Wednesday 29th April 1857.
Course today Across a number of fields on the outskirts of Kilmarnock.
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.
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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