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Earliest Meeting: Tuesday 26th March 1839
Final Meeting: Tuesday 26th March 1839
The West Berkshire racing town of Newbury first held races on Wash Common in 1738, where racing continued to 1777, after which meetings transferred to Lord Craven’s land at Enborne Heath from 1805 until 1811. Racing was also staged at Eat Woodhay and Northcroft in the early years of the 19th century. However, steeplechasing began to emerge as a popular sport, particularly with the hunting brigade, from the late 1830s, and one such steeplechase meeting took place on Tuesday 26th March 1839 over a 3 ½ mile course close to Newbury, stretching from Sydmonton to Ecchinswell. Entries were made at the White Hart in Newbury’s market place, with Mr Elderfield overseeing entries. A crowd in excess of 6,000 witnessed the race which began at in Sydmonton at the gamekeeper’s house and raced over a 3 ½ mile course on land owned by Mr Paxton, before finishing at the village of Ecchinswell, the race being won by Deception.

This racecourse is not covered in any of the 4 Volumes of Racecourses Here Today and Gone Tomorrow. Ordering details shown below.
Local Patrons Mr Paxton, Mr Eldefield
Principal Races Newbury Maiden Steeplechase

This long-talked of race, Newbury’s first steeplechase, was run on Tuesday 26th March 1839 over 3 ½ miles of stiffish hunting country. The weather was fine the previous day, so promising favourable ground, but a large downpour of rain fell overnight making the ground heavy. At post time all subscribers were at the post except Mr Webb’s George, the owner not wishing to subject him to the challenging conditions. The conditions of the race specified a sweepstake of 3 sovereigns each, with 30 sovereigns added, the second horse to receive 9 sovereigns to be paid for by the owner of the horse finishing last.

Tuesday 26th March 1839
Newbury Maiden Steeplechase for 45 sovereigns over 3 ½ miles

1. Deception, grey gelding owned by Mr Justice and ridden by Buckeridge
2. Vivian, chestnut gelding owned by Mr Pithers and ridden by Fleming
3. Nebuchadnezzar, black gelding owned by Major Hilliard and ridden by his groom
4. Jenny Jones, brown mare owned by Mr Elderfield and ridden by Southby
5. William, bay gelding owned by Mr Field and ridden by Drewe

The course commenced at the gatekeeper’s house in Sydmonton, followed the Sydmonton road until reaching Sydmonton Common, and thence across the valley towards Greenham Common. The course was littered throughout with rasping fences, a brook and a river to cross before reaching a finishing post at Ecchinswell. The race was won by Mr Justice’s grey Deception by 3 lengths from Vivian, the 3 ½ mile course being covered in 12 minutes. Afterwards an Ordinary was served to 40 people at the White Hart.

The final meeting took place on Tuesday 26th March 1839.
Course today Reverted to farmland in a rural area.
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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  Quantity Cost
Volume 1 North of Hatfield £19.99 + £4 postage    
Volume 2 South of Hatfield £14.99 + £3 postage    
Volume 3 Wales & Scotland £9.99 + £3 postage    
Volume 4 Ireland £9.99 + £3 postage    
Volumes 1 - 4 £54.96 + £5 postage    
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