Richard Gauthier Collection

Hereford Racecourse

The Herefordshire county cathedral city of Hereford, on the River Wye, is 16 miles east of the border with Wales and 24 miles south west of Worcester. The earliest record of a Herefordshire Hunt meeting taking place in the vicinity of the city was on Tuesday 27th August 1771, and racing continued thereafter on a regular basis. In 1793 a disruptive, disapproving crowd brought down the horse Edwin, his owner vowing never to return to the course. It was almost fifty years before the first hurdle race was staged in 1840, but on Thursday 12th February 1846 the course hosted the Grand Annual Steeplechase which saw Brunette beat Crackaman.  Hereford reached new heights in 1857 when it hosted a Royal Plate for the only time in its history which was won by Fisherman, a remarkable horse which contested 35 races during its lifetime, winning 22 of them. In 1883 the final flat race meeting took place at the course, but National Hunt racing continued to operate successfully, although racing ceased for the majority of both World Wars. However, a meeting did take place on Easter Monday 25th March 1940 when the management proudly boasted 190 entries. Racing resumed in 1946 when a company was formed to take over the administration of the races from the Council. Although races were not always of the highest quality, they often made up for it in quantity, staging highly competitive races. Never was this truer than at one meeting in 1975 when so many runners were declared that races had to be divided into divisions which led to a 14 race programme. The course relied on a loyal crowd of supporters, although they famously did not issue annual Members badges until 2001. Attendances started to decline in the early part of the 21st century, although a new era dawned in 2008 when a joint membership was offered with Chepstow in an attempt to boost crowds. The lease was held by the Herefordshire Council Arena Racing Company and the course was closed in 2012, with a final meeting staged on Sunday 16th December 2012. However, after a four year spell without racing, racing returned in October 2016.

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