Richard Gauthier Collection

Southwell Racecourse

In the middle of the 19th century pony racing was staged on a regular basis at Southwell, notably on 15th June 1848 when the card consisted of a Pony Race, a Hurdle Race and a Flat Race, with entries made at the White Swan in Southwell. The very next year, on 31st May 1849, the card began with a Pony Race which was won by Mr John Bucklow’s brown pony Telegraph Polly. As the century progressed the cards began to contain more races for thoroughbreds, as a card from the meeting held on Friday 20th June 1851 indicated. Regular meetings were taking place in the vicinity of Southwell Minster by 1883, and three years later the Southwell Race Company was formed and a grandstand completed on the old course. However, after a meeting on 17th October 1897 the racing licence was not renewed because the track was judged to be unsafe, and the search for a new venue began. That new venue was in the village of Rolleston, on the outskirts of the town, with the first meeting staged on Monday 16th May 1898. Full details of that inaugural meeting are shown below courtesy of the Sporting Life Tuesday 17th May 1898. Although the course closed during each of the World Wars, after the War had ended racing returned and a new grandstand was completed in 1965, with a hurdles track, complete with new watering system, opening 3 years later. The big change came in 1989 when Britain’s first all-weather National Hunt track held its inaugural meeting on Wednesday 1st November 1989, with a Flat meeting on the same surface just one week later. Although National Hunt racing was ditched after a short time due to safety concerns, Flat racing has gone from strength to strength. Currently the course hosts 51 fixtures annually.