Kirkgate Stables
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It is known that there were stables in Kirkgate at least from the middle of the 19th century, and possibly before then. George Oates, and probably brother William, is known to have settled in the stables in the mid 1850s, while Henry Harry Hall occupied the stables from October 1865, spending at least 14 years there before relocating to larger stables at Spigot Lodge, being replaced in Kirkgate by James Binnie. However, the exact location is unknown, but the most likely candidates are on the sites of the present day Kirkgate stables, namely Kingsley House and Warwick House. Kingsley House, ideally located next to the parish church of St Mary and St Alkelda, is believed to have been the Curate's house for some time. The earliest record of a trainer at Kingsley House was October 1956 when Melton Avril Vasey used the stables. Unfortunately, there is no mention of him building the stables, so they were likely to have already been there in some form. The more likely location for the 19th century Kirkgate stables is Warwick House, because when G W Smith bought the site on which Warwick House now stands, newspapers widely reported that he 'rebuilt and redeveloped the site' implying that there were stables there originally.

1853-August 1861 William Oates, George Oates; August 1861-May 1862
George Oates, born in 1830, younger son of 'old' George Oates, who had trained for a prolonged period at Ashgill, Middleham, and brother of William Oates, was one of the most respected trainers of his day, training Butterfly (SR 1827), alongside brother William, to win the 1860 Epsom Oaks and a year later saddling Kettledrum (SR 2048) to win the 1861 Epsom Derby.
The Oates brothers had trained jointly in Kirkgate, Middleham for a number of years before enjoying their success with Butterfly, but sadly, on 7th August 1861 William died after suffering from a terminal illness, almost certainly bowel cancer as he struggled to be regular with his bowels towards the end, and was buried in Middleham churchyard. William, who was aged 42 and unmarried, had enjoyed coursing, winning many cups in the sport. He had been responsible for training Sir Tatton Sykes (SR 1990) at Highfield House, Malton for William Scott when the horse won the 1846 2000 Guineas and St Leger, but was beaten a neck by Pyrrhus The First (SR 1951) in the Epsom Derby. George continued to train in Middleham for the next 9 months, and then leased his stables to Lord Glasgow who needed extra boxes for his trainer Tom Dawson. For many years George had been based both at Richmond and Middleham, training for Colonel Towneley, although in 1863 Towneley transferred all of his horses to John Scott, leaving Oates to become a public trainer, but by then Oates had already moved to Seven Barrows Stables in Lambourn. Up until May 1862 George Oates trained in Middleham, although he did venture south to the Stork House stables of John Prince in Lambourn when he prepared Kettledrum for a tilt at the 1861 Epsom Derby, which the horse went on to win. Towneley and Oates were pioneers, trying out new training ideas, one of which established a Turkish Bath for horses at Seven Barrows in January 1863. The entire process was supervised by their vet Mr Moore and involved introducing hot air through grating over which the racehorse was placed, and an experienced stablehand used friction to 'foster profuse perspiration.' A large syringe of icy cold water was then squirted over the horse before it was scraped and rubbed dry, after which it walked to its box with 'renewed vigour.' As early as April 1863 Towneley announced that all of his horses would leave Seven Barrows bound for John Scott, leaving Oates to become a public trainer. Oates was well respected and shortly after the announcement Mr W Robinson, amongst others, sent his horses to Seven Barrows. Oates continued to train at Seven Barrows until 1866, when he moved his training enterprise north again. He arrived back in Middleham in September 1867, taking back his house and stables on the High Moor where he had sufficient room for 16 horses, and commenced training there immediately. He remained in Middleham until 1872, thereafter training at French Gate, Richmond. Towards the end of his life Oates trained for Mr Vyner at Fairfield, but George died on Saturday 25th January 1890 aged 59.
1846 2000 Guineas at Newmarket SIR TATTON SYKES (SR 1990) 5/1 owned and ridden by Bill Scott and trained by William Oates
1846 St Leger at Doncaster SIR TATTON SYKES (SR 1990) 3/1 owned and ridden by Bill Scott and trained by William Oates
1846 Epsom Derby SIR TATTON SYKES (SR 1990) 16/1 owned and ridden by Bill Scott and trained by William Oates, second beaten a neck by Pyrrhus the first 8/1 (SR 1951)
1860 Epsom Oaks BUTTERFLY (SR 1827) 10/1 owned by Richard Eastwood, trained by William and George Oates, and ridden by Jem Snowden

1865-1879 Henry Harry Hall
Henry Harry Hall, born in 1819, moved to Middleham to train, starting in the town at stables in Kirkgate, and was definitely in the area by October 1865 because he received a horse named Professor Milne into his stables by owner Mr C Clayton. The exact location of his early stables is unknown, but they are most likely to have been stables in the present day Warwick House which G W Smith 'redeveloped' in 1910. In October 1865 Hall received Professor Milne from owner C Clayton, and by 1866 the best of the stable were Professor Milne, Mite, Professor and Pretty Queen. In 1867 his stable stars were Networker, Midge, Dear Tom and Half Moon, while the next year Moll and Dick paid their way.

I am grateful to Ordnance Survey (© Crown Copyright) for permission to use the 1882 map shown above.
In 1872 Harry Hall was still riding in public, and partnered Carlowrie to third place in the Great Yorkshire Handicap Chase over the short-lived York Steeplechase course, beaten by the dead-heaters Jack and the appropriately named Pensioner, given Hall's age at the time of riding. In 1874 he was joined by an apprentice named Henry Morgan who rode the winners of the 1875 and 1878 Cambridgeshire, Sutton and Isonomy respectively, and the 1877 Wokingham Handicap at Royal Ascot named Rosbach 4/1 fav which was owned by Lord Rosebery and trained by Dover. By 1875 the best of his string were Harriet Laws, The Stagg, Precentor, Waterloo, Fontarabian, Ambler and Viscountess. Fontarabian won 2 races at Doncaster, in addition to races at Newcastle and Northallerton. On Monday 30th April 1877 Harry Hall became involved in a dispute which threatened to land him in front of the Jockey Club, and concerned a race in which he should not really have had a significant interest. The race concerned was at Burgh Barony, Carlisle, and was over the running of the first race of the day, the Burgh Trial Stakes Handicap in which there were only 3 runners, 6/4 White Rose, 7/4 Extinguisher owned by Hall's great friend Fred Bates, and 3/1 Daniel. It was over a mile, and at the bottom of the course it was clear to spectators that Daniel and White Rose had run inside a marker post while Extinguisher ran outside, believing it to be the correct course. White Rose won the race, with Extinguisher second, but an objection was made to Daniel. The Stewards, led by Captain Machell, walked down to the bottom of the course and decided that Daniel had taken the right path and awarded him the stakes. Almost in spite, Captain Machell urged his fellow stewards to launch a second objection, this time against Hall for a frivolous objection, and they, being their own judge and jury, found against Hall and fined him £5. Hall, not surprisingly, asked the Clerk of the Course for an explanation, but before he was allowed to provide it Captain Machell threatened Hall with being brought before the full Jockey Club stewards unless he let the matter rest. With exquisite tact, the Clerk of the Course intervened to smooth things over and invited Hall to apologise, which he did, bringing the matter to a conclusion. In 1875 Hall landed his first Northumberland Plate with Harriet Laws 100/6 owned by T Holmes and ridden by Henry Morgan. In 1878 Henry Morgan, who by then had completed his 5-year apprenticeship with Harry Hall, was enticed away from Hall with a retainer by Lord Falmouth. In November 1879 Hall received a boost when prominent owner C J Bedford moved his string of horses from Tom Brown to Hall, including Sunnybrae, who shortly afterwards landed the Welter Handicap at Manchester on Tuesday 18th November 1879, following up the very next day with victory in the Ellesmere Welter Handicap at the same track. Maybe the additional numbers acted as a springboard for change, because at the end of the 1879 season he transferred his string out of Middleham town centre to Spigot Lodge on the Tupgill Estate where he was even more successful, and was replaced at Kirkgate by James Binnie. On Tuesday 24th February 1880 Mrs Hall, Harry Hall's mother, died at his Middleham home aged 91. In 1881 he won the Great Ebor Handicap at York with Mother Shipton owned by R Harrison, and was then joined in his stables by apprentice Seth Chandley who ended up riding some of Hall's biggest winners. Seth Chandley, son of a cotton-weaver, rode his first winner in 1883 and went on to win some of the biggest races in the calendar, including Veracity 50/1 in the 1888 Lincoln Handicap, Martin Bell 100/8 in the 1888 Northumberland Plate, Tyrant in the 1890 Chester Cup, Alice in the 1892 Ebor, Sweet Duchess in the 1894 Doncaster Cup, Linton in the 1895 Ayr Gold Cup and Whiston in the 1895 Portland Handicap at Doncaster. Harry Hall also enjoyed his own successes in prestigious races, including the 1884 Northumberland Plate with Lawminster, who was by Exminster out of Harriet Laws, herself a Northumberland Cup winner for Hall. He famously gained back-to-back wins in the 1892 and 1893 Chester Cup with Dare Devil, the first ridden by Mullen, the second by J Fagan, and the Manchester November Handicap with Golden Drop at 40/1.
Other horses he trained were Dreeden, China and Why Not, but in the final year of his career, 1896, he won the Spring Handicap at Carlisle with Pallanza, who then followed up in the Cumberland Plate on the same course, and the Northumberland Plate with Dare Devil, but his final winner was Cotterdale 5/1 in the Thirsk Autumn Handicap when ridden by his loyal Seth Chandley. Harry Hall died at 3.30 am on Sunday 27th December 1896 aged 77 having suffered from sycope, a stomach problem, for 3 years. He was buried at East Wilton on Wednesday 30th December 1896 when the cortege was led by his old grey hack, but disturbingly, Hall's last wish was that the grey should be shot at his graveside just before he was buried. For such a caring trainer, it seemed such an odd, out of character request.
1875 Northumberland Plate at Newcastle HARRIET LAWS 100/6 owned by T Holmes, trained by Harry Hall and ridden by Henry Morgan
1879 Welter Handicap at Manchester SUNNYBRAE 10/1 owned and trained by Harry Hall and ridden by J E Jones
1879 Ellesmere Welter Handicap at Manchester SUNNYBRAE 2/1 fav owned and trained by Harry Hall and ridden by J E Jones
1881 Great Ebor Handicap at York MOTHER SHIPTON 8/1 owned by R Harrison, trained by Harry Hall and ridden by Percival
1884 Northumberland Plate at Newcastle LAWMINSTER 9/1 owned by T Holmes, trained by Harry Hall and ridden by J Fagan
1892 Chester Cup DARE DEVIL 11/2 owned by C Perkins, trained by Harry Hall and ridden by Mullen
1893 Chester Cup DARE DEVIL 9/2 owned by C Perkins, trained by Harry Hall and ridden by J Fagan
1893 Manchester November Handicap at Castle Irwell, Manchester GOLDEN DROP 40/1 owned by Matthew Dobson Peacock, trained by Harry Hall and ridden by Seth Chandley
1896 Spring Handicap at Carlisle PALLANZA 10/1 owned by J G Baird-Hay, trained by Harry Hall and ridden by Seth Chandley
1896 Cumberland Plate at Carlisle PALLANZA evens fav owned by J G Baird-Hay, trained by Harry Hall and ridden by Seth Chandley
1896 Northumberland Plate at Newcastle DARE DEVIL 6/1 owned by C Perkins, trained by Harry Hall and ridden by J Fagan
1896 Thirsk Autumn Handicap at Thirsk COTTERDALE 5/1 owned by W Winn, trained by Harry Hall and ridden by Seth Chandley
Thirsk Subscription Token Ripon Stand Token Catterick Token 1848 Thirsk Gents 1932 Ripon Gents 1930

January 1881-1882 James Binnie
James Binnie, born in Scotland in 1830, trained in Gullane and was famous for meeting up with Joseph Arnold and William Noble in the evenings to make Matches for horses that they trained so that their owners could enjoy watching the Matches the following morning and place side stakes on their outcomes. In January 1881 Binnie brought his string to Middleham, taking over the stables left vacant by Harry Hall who had transferred to Spigot Lodge. Binnie's string, at that point, consisted of horses owned by Mr Hunter, Mr Martin and Mr G Langley, the best of which were listed as Nerida, Macadam, Procris and Strathyre. Binnie soon got into the swing of things in his new stables and daily joined the likes of Drislane and Fred Bates on Middleham Moor gallops. In 1881 Nerida landed the Glasgow Handicap at Lanark, the Londesborough Cup at York and the Gateshead Plate at Newcastle. Strathyre was another one who won some nice prizes, winning the Montrose Handicap at Perth and the Renfrewshire Plate at Paisley, while Procris won two races at Perth in quick succession. In 1882 Nerida landed the Welter Cup at Ayr and the Newcastle Handicap. In 1883 James Binnie moved to Grove House training establishment in Malton, ably assisted by his son William, but 5 years later, and aged just 58, Binnie died suddenly on Sunday 14th October 1888 leaving William to take over the licence.
1881 Glasgow Handicap at Lanark NERIDA 5/1 owned by Mr Hunter, trained by James Binnie and ridden by Gregg
1881 Londesborough Cup at York NERIDA 10/1 owned by Mr Hunter, trained by James Binnie and ridden by Gregg
1881 Gateshead Plate at Newcastle NERIDA 6/1 owned by Mr Hunter, trained by James Binnie and ridden by Gregg
1881 Renfrewshire Plate at Paisley STRATHYRE 2/1 owned by Mr Brechin, trained by James Binnie and ridden by Jimmy Woodburn
1881 Montrose Handicap at Perth STRATHYRE 3/1 owned by Mr Brechin, trained by James Binnie and ridden by Gregg
1881 County Welter Plate at Perth PROCRIS 2/1 owned by Mr Hunter, trained by James Binnie and ridden by Gregg
1881 Hamilton Welter Handicap at Lanark PROCRIS 6/4 owned by Mr Hunter, trained by James Binnie and ridden by Gregg
1882 Newcastle Handicap NERIDA 7/1 owned by Mr Hunter, trained by James Binnie and ridden by Gregg
1882 Welter Cup at Ayr NERIDA evens fav owned by Mr Hunter, trained by James Binnie and ridden by John Osborne

Top 5 Kirkgate Stable horses of all time
BUTTERFLY (1860 Epsom Oaks)
HARRIET LAWS (1875 Northumberland Plate)
NERIDA (1881 Glasgow Handicap, Londesborough Cup, 1882 Newcastle Handicap)
SUNNYBRAE (1879 Ellesmere Welter Handicap)
STRATHYRE (1881 Montrose Handicap, Renfrewshire Plate)
© John Slusar 2023

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