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Earliest meeting: April 1759
|This racecourse is covered in Volume 1 of Racecourses Here Today and Gone Tomorrow. Ordering details shown below.|
|Local Patrons||Lord Northumberland|
|Principal Races||Rothbury Hunt Cup|
Tuesday 28th April 1870
|The final meeting took place on Saturday 10th April 1965.|
|Course today||Near the banks of the River Coquet.(see the googlemap shown below)|
|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 firstname.lastname@example.org|
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
774 former courses
400 former courses
140 former courses
235 former courses
|Copies of the above books are only available by emailing email@example.com stating your requirements, method of payment (cheque payable to W.Slusar) or Bank transfer, and the address where the book(s) should be sent.|
|Solo Call circa 1950||The Callant circa 1950|
Very grateful thanks to Don Patterson for the 12 pictures that provide a panoramic view of one of the lovliest courses in England, including shots of Solo Call and The Callant, 2 Rothbury favourites from the Fifties. Clearly Don, and many others, have fond memories of the course and still miss it today. You only need to read the article from Albert Whiting, shown below, to know how much people valued the venue.
The picture shows PENFAIR on his way to winning the Cragside Handicap Hurdle on 10th April 1954 when ridden by owner/trainer Alan C Batey. I am very grateful to his son David Batey for the scan of his father. Coincidentally, David read the article below and believes he may have owned a horse, Zamhareer, in partnership with Albert Whiting in 1995 which was trained by Wilf Storey at Consett.
An interesting comparison is shown below. It is the googlemap of the current area previously covered by the racecourse as shown above.
I am grateful to Alastair Turnbull who provided the racecard from the very last meeting at Rothbury which is shown below and some very fond memories of the course. He shares his memories below:-
I grew up on a farm in the Scottish Borders, about 7 miles from Kelso and adjacent to the farm where Sandy Thomson now trains. Most of the local farmers kept horses and were keen supporters of National Hunt racing and point to pointing. The Thomson family, for example, have a long tradition of success with the likes of Half Awake who won the 1968 Greenall Whitley at Haydock (now The Betfred Grand National Trial) for Sandy's father, David, who himself was also a leading point to point rider. Going further back, Sandy's grandfather bred MacMoffat who was runner up in both the 1939 and 1940 Grand Nationals (see http://www.greyhoundderby.com/GN1939.html and http://www.greyhoundderby.com/GN1940.html ) for further details and a video of each of these races. Another legendary chaser from the area who graduated from the point to point ranks was Freddie, who regularly was successful in his southern raids. He had a particular liking for Sandown Park, where he won many big races, as well as being runner up in the 1965 and 1966 Grand Nationals (see http://www.greyhoundderby.com/GN1965.html and http://www.greyhoundderby.com/GN1966.html ).
My family were all keen race goers and my grandfather in particular was a very astute and successful punter. Kelso and Hexham Races were unmissable,with Newcastle and Edinburgh (now Musselburgh) also being popular ports of call. Another favourite destination was Rothbury, which only raced on one day a year and I remember going racing there 2/3 times as a child, including the last ever meeting on 10 April 1965. Coincidentally, this was also the date of the last ever meeting at Bogside when the Scottish Grand National was won by Brasher, ridden by Jimmy FitzGerald.
The first race was won by a mare called Choice Archlesse, trained by Denys Smith and ridden by a then 7 lb claimer by the name of Brian Fletcher. It was early days in this trainer/jockey association which yielded many great successes, culminating in Grand National glory with Red Alligator. Brian was also of course the jockey who partnered Red Rum to his first two Grand National wins. And don't forget that Choice Archlesse was the dam of Cheltenham Gold Cup winner, Silver Buck.
|The first race was won by the 3/1 Choice Archlesse ridden by the then 7 lbs claimer Brian Fletcher. He later recorded 3 Grand National succeses, 2 on Red Rum and one on Red Alligator.||The second race was won by Royal Gurad who was ridden by Jack Berry. On this day he was missing his famous red shirt, but later went on to become a highly successful trainer.|
I am also indebted to Albert Whiting who has provided fond, and very personal memories of a meeting he loved and misses very much.
My memories of Rothbury Racecourse go back to the early 1950's - and what a day it was each year, if it survived flooding!. The scene was unchanged for a century! Horses walking through the village, Kit Tully from The Railway Hotel struggling to get his equipment, bottles, kegs etc. into the bar tent on the course - the going was never better than heavy many times - and everyone keeping a weather eye out to assess the chances of the River Coquet overflowing its banks, resulting in the meeting having to be abandoned. Parking one's car was a major achievement in itself. Straight up a hill at 45 degrees on a slippery turf - and even more excitement coming out!!!
After a hearty lunch at the County Hotel (and what a lovely view of the course from the dining room windows!) and a gentle stroll over the footbridge across the river, you could be on the course in two minutes flat. Then the excitement started. People came from far and near to experience the unique atmosphere of the course. (The only slightly comparable experience now is at Cartmel Racecourse.)
The Rothbury Cup was the big race and, towards the end of its life, Rothbury Racecourse staged a three horse race over 3 miles in which The Callant, a striking grey, frightened everyone off. The Callant was well-known from many top grade racecourses in the country - having featured in several epic finishes in big races - and was owned by four local sporting men.
A feature of the steeplechases at Rothbury was the dramatic downhill section with a sharp left turn at the bottom into the straight which was parallel to the river. If the horse didn't quite make it the jockey needed to be a reasonably good swimmer!! (That turn was wonderfully described by "gentleman" Gerry Scott being interviewed in the Sporting Life - shortly before that newspaper folded - as his least favourite racecourse because of !!!).
Anyway, The Callant took the turn
without problem well in the lead and proceeded to fall at the first fence in the straight.
By the time the jockey caught the horse the other two runners were a couple of
fences clear - but, undeterred, The Callant set off in pursuit. He was about two
furlong behind with less than a circuit to go but was slowly but surely closing with each
stride. Up the steep hill away from the winning post, through the fields on the far
side of the course and down the steep hill leading to the treacherous turn into the
straight The Callant was eating into the other two runners' lead and everyone held their
breath as he came to the first fence in the straight where he had fallen first time
around. Over he flew now only 20 lengths behind and the cheers could be heard down
the entire length of the
Several years later, the four owners of The Callant died in a short period of time and each had one of The Callant's mounted hooves buried with him.
On the very last day of racing I managed to find two winners - one trained by Dick Curran for Kirby Overblow and the other Mar Letoh (Ram Hotel backwards).
Now it is almost impossible to see where the racecourse was - like the railway station too, long gone. All that motorists see now when driving from Rothbury to Thropton is the golf course.
Gone, but never forgotten!
Celebrating the riding of a journeyman jockey, Frederick Walter Croney, throughout the 1925-26 season.