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Earliest meeting: Monday 11th August 1735
Final meeting: Thursday 22nd September 1859
On the northern outskirts of the capital city Edinburgh is the coastal district of Leith, and as early as 1128 the district commanded some importance with the building of Holyrood Abbey. Leith used its position on the coast of the Firth of Forth to good effect when hosting its own race meetings on the sands as early as 1735, although well over two centuries before this there was racing of a fashion. In 1504 a payment was made to a jockey for riding one of the king’s horses at Leith, while by 1661 meetings were taking place every Saturday in the season. However, in 1735 a three day meeting ran from Monday 11th to Wednesday 13th August 1735, starting with a card for galloways on the first day, but on the Tuesday the feature race was His Majesty’s 100 Guineas Plate, while the principal race on the Wednesday was the City of Edinburgh Purse. A punitive Act of George II was enacted in 1740 entitled Heads of Statute 13 respecting Horse Racing cap. 19 to prevent the multiplicity of horse races and discourage idleness. This Act certainly had a detrimental effect on Leith races, causing them to cease for 8 years, because key terms in the statute stated:-
(i) No Plates under £50 value can be run anywhere except Newmarket, Black Hambleton or York;
(ii) No person shall enter more than one horse for the same Plate;
(iii) No horse may enter a race unless registered by his owner.
After this setback racing continued regularly for over a century, with the meeting on Thursday 14th July 1842 proving particularly beneficial for Mr Hepple who won the Purse and the prestigious Leith Cup with Bush Ranger. He just failed to complete the treble when the Leith and Edinburgh Stakes went to Mr Lamb’s Sambo Sutton. A particularly popular meeting was staged on Tuesday 7th August 1855 when a large crowd gathered on the sands to witness Mr R Hutchison’s Ashley Cooper win the Whip Stakes over a mile and a half, while the principal race went to Mr Melford’s Motley. The final meeting took place on Thursday 22nd September 1859, although even after this date less formally organised races continued.

This racecourse is covered in Volume 3 of Racecourses Here Today and Gone Tomorrow. Ordering details shown below.
Local Patrons Mr Hepple, Mr Lamb, Mr Melford
Principal Races Leith Cup, Leith and Edinburgh Stakes

Tuesday 7th August 1855
Leith and Edinburgh Sweepstake over 1 ½ miles
1. Motley, bay colt owned by Mr Melford
2. All Serene, bay gelding owned by Mr Chapherd
3. Mary Ann, bay mare owned by Mr Brown

The final meeting took place on Thursday 22nd September 1859.
Course today On Leith Sands.
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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