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Earliest meeting: Tuesday 9th July 1751
Final meeting: Thursday 19th July 1866
The County Down town of Maze (Mazetown) on the River Lagan had a population of less than 400 in the middle of the 18th century, yet still entertained them at its own racecourse in 1751. The ‘Historical List of Horse-Matches run in 1751’ recorded a meeting at Maze, County Down, extending from Tuesday 9th to Thursday 11th July 1751 sponsored by some high powered Lords, including Donegall, Clanwilliams and Farnham. The course was on land on the banks of the river, a mile north of the town, donated by Arthur Hill, 1st Marquess of Downshire. In its centre was a hill with circumference 2 miles which provided a natural viewing spot and came complete with wooden tower on the top of the hill, later replaced by a stone structure. On the opening day the rather grandly named First Royal Plate was won by Mr Charles O’Neill’s Fearnought, while the £30 and £40 Corporation Purses on the next two days were won by Hercules owned by Langford Rowley and Charles O’Neill’s Sweeper. The Savage family were early supporters, particularly Francis Savage whose colours were Orange with an Orange cap, and the family helped Steward the first meetings. By 1776 the meeting had stretched to a full six days, beginning on Monday 17th July with the Kings Plate which was won by Lord Farnham’s Miss Stote, and continuing daily until the Corporation Plate on Saturday 22nd July which fell to Mr Hawthorn’s Cumberland Fanny. Once the railways arrived crowd sizes were boosted and at the October 1845 meeting the Railway Plate was contested for a 30 sovereigns purse donated by the Ulster Railway Company. It is difficult to differentiate between Down Royal Races and The Maze races, for the Royal Corporation races were frequently staged on the Maze Course, although they also made use of the Downpatrick course. A two day Down Royal Corporation meeting did take place on Wednesday 18th and Thursday 19th July 1866 on the Maze course when the Queen’s Plate was won by Captain Gray’s Terror, beating Fire-Eater and Pam. Races continue in the Maze area to this day.

This racecourse is covered in Volume 4 of Racecourses Here Today and Gone Tomorrow. Ordering details shown below.
Local Patrons Lord Donegall, Lord Clanwilliams, Lord Farnham
Principal Races His Majesty's Plate, Kings Plate, Royal Corporation Sweepstakes, County of Down Stakes

Tuesday 9th July 1751

Maze First Royal Plate given by His Majesty to the Corporation
1. Fearnought, bay horse owned by Charles O’Neill
2. Shuttle, black mare owned by William Brownton
3. Hawkey, chestnut horse owned by Edward Smith
4. Silver Legs, grey mare owned by Mr Langley

Wednesday 10th July 1751

Maze £30 Corporation Purse
1. Unnamed bay mare owned by Hercules Langford Rowley
2. Unnamed chestnut mare owned by the Earl of Antrim
3. Unnamed chestnut mare owned by Mr Edward Harris

Thursday 11th July 1751

Maze £40 Corporation Purse
1. Sweeper, a black gelding owned by Charles O’Neill
2. Sportley, bay mare owned by Lord Mazarine

Monday 17th July 1775

Kings Plate over 2 miles
1. Miss Stote, bay mare owned by Lord Farnham
2. Reformation, bay mare owned by Mr R Hamilton
3. Emily, grey mare owned by Mr G Hamilton

Tuesday 18th July 1775

Kings Plate for Irish Bred horses over 4 miles
1. Coiner, grey gelding owned by Mr Jos. Shadwell
2. Humphrey Clinker, chestnut horse owned by Mr F Savage
3. Unnamed black gelding owned by Mr Campbell

Wednesday 19th July 1775

Subscription Plate over 2 miles
1. Emily, grey mare owned by Mr G Hamilton
2. Miss Stote, bay mare owned by Lord Farnham
3. Downright Lass, grey mare owned by Mr Hawthorn

Thursday 20th July 1775

Subscription Plate over 4 miles
1. Fair Rachel, grey mare owned by Mr F Savage
2. Noble, chestnut horse owned by Lord Altamont
3. Why-Not, grey gelding owned by Mr Kirkpatrick

Friday 21st July 1775

Corporation Plate over 3 miles
1. Reformation, bay mare owned by Mr R Hamilton
2. Prince Royal, bay horse owned by Lord Altamont
3. Old Sir Richard, chestnut horse owned by Captain Montgomery

Saturday 22nd July 1775

Corporation Plate over 2 miles
1. Cumberland Fanny, chestnut mare owned by Mr Hawthorn
2. Nisus, chestnut filly owned by Mr F Savage
3. St John, brown colt owned by Mr Nevin

20th – 21st July 1781

The King’s Plate over 2 miles
1 Coalheaver owned by Lord Clanwilliams
2 Ophelia owned by Mr Kirwan
3 Syren owned by Mr Pottinger

His Majesty’s Plate over 4 miles
Tennis Ball owned by Mr Conolly walked over

Monday 22nd July to Saturday 27th July 1805

His Majesty’s Plate over 4 miles
1. Fitz-Emily owned by Mr Hamilton walked over.

County of Down Stakes over 2 miles
1. Abbot owned by Lord Donegall
2. Unnamed colt by Marquis owned by Mr Douglas
3. Averina owned by Mr May

Royal Corporation Sweepstakes over 2 miles
1. Unnamed gelding by Vesper owned by Mr Pottinger
2. Averina owned by Lord Donegall
3. Aged gelding owned by Mr Scott

The final meeting took place on Thursday 19th July 1866.
Course today On land on the banks of the river about a mile north of town, with a hill from which spectators could view the entire course.
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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