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Earliest meeting: Tuesday 18th May 1886
Final meeting: Thursday 12th April 1906
Today Earley is a town in Berkshire, consisting of the smaller areas of Maiden Erlegh and Lower Earley, which lie just 2 miles south and east of Reading respectively. Earley can trace its history back to the Domesday Book of 1086 when known as Herlei. It boasted two Manors, those of Erleigh St Bartholomew and Erleigh St Nicholas. They later became known as Erleigh Court and Erleigh White Knights. In the latter part of the 19th century the village of Maiden Erlegh held its own race meetings which were set in the grounds of Maiden Erlegh House. Those races were the brainchild of the Master of the South Berks Hunt and owner of Maiden Erlegh House, Mr John Hargreaves, and started out as races for the Hunt and Yeomanry. The course, a mile and a quarter around with a very short run-in, staged an inaugural meeting on Tuesday 18th May 1886, with the opening race being won by Pleasure Boat ridden by Mr C E Piggott. The 1888 meeting ran under the glorious title of the ‘South Berks Hunt and Royal Berkshire Yeomanry’ meeting and consisted of 6 steeplechase races run in March. At the start of the 1900s the Maiden Erlegh estate was bought by Mr Solly Joel and he ensured that the meeting was extended and the facilities improved. Hurdle races were introduced in 1900 and in 1901 the number of race days extended to four, with a two day meeting in March followed by a two day meeting in November. The principal races were the Great Western Chase and the Maiden Erlegh Chase. The final meeting, a two day affair, took place on Wednesday 11th and Thursday 12th April 1906. It was maybe timely that racing ceased in Maiden Erlegh at the very same time that a magnificent track in nearby Newbury was due to open. Newbury opened in October the next year.

This racecourse is covered in Volume 2 of Racecourses Here Today and Gone Tomorrow. Ordering details shown below.

Local Patrons Mr John Hargreaves, South Berks Hunt, Mr Solly Joel
Principal Races Great Western Chase, Maiden Erlegh Chase

Thursday 12th April 1906
Reading Steeplechase
1. Wedding Tour, aged horse ridden by Rollaston
2. Coroun, aged horse ridden by Dunn
3. Aymon, aged horse ridden by Rasbotham
Betting: 6/4 Wedding Tour, 7/5 Coroun, 5/2 Aymon

Course today

Today there is no evidence of the previous existence of a racecourse, with housing covering the previous track.

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.
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Volume 1 North of Hatfield £19.99 + £4 postage    
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