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Earliest meeting: Thursday 16th February 1854
Final meeting: Monday 25th March 1940
There was evidence of racing in the seaside town of Torquay, in the County of Devon, as early as 1854 when the inaugural meeting was held at Cary Park on Thursday 16th February 1854. The races were organised by local tradesmen, notably the baker, the hatter and the candlestick maker, and the course even boasted a grandstand adjacent to Furrough Cross cottages. The races remained at Cary Park for 23 years before being transferred to a course midway between Galmpton and Waddeton. The first meeting, a two day affair held at the new course was on Thursday 25th and Friday 26th April 1878. The move was shortlived and within 12 years the meeting had moved yet again. This time Torquay Racecourse was situated at Petitor and was to remain there for 50 years. The course shared its existence with Torquay Golf Club, benefitting from its many facilities, and for one week a year the Race Committee leased the course from the District Council. Although a meeting did take place in 1915, racing then ceased due to the War, returning in 1920. The final meeting took place on Monday 25th March 1940 when almost 9000 enjoyed a welcome break from worries about the War. Although races ceased for the duration of the War, a bomb destroyed most of the facilities, including the grandstand on Sunday 23rd May 1943. When the War ended it was decided that rebuilding costs were too great and racing transferred to Newton Abbot.

This racecourse is covered in Volume 2 of Racecourses Here Today and Gone Tomorrow. Ordering details shown below.
Local Patrons

Sir Ernest Wills, Major H.Sinclair, Sir Lawrence Palk

Principal Races

Abbey Steeplechase, West of England Handicap Steeplechase, Watcombe Hurdle, Tor Abbey Chase

Monday 5th to Tuesday 6th April 1926

The Abbey Steeplechase over 2 miles
1. Pride of the Hive owned by Major H.Sinclair
2. Red Zone owned by Major G.E.W.Franklyn
3. Harewick owned by Mrs S.Allden

West of England Handicap Steeplechase over 2 miles
1. Apple Pie owned by Sir Ernest Wills
2. Hackdaile owned by Mrs G.S.L.Whitelaw
3. Rath-Luire owned by Mrs Guy Shorrock

Watcombe Hurdle Race over 2 miles
1. Sound Asleep owned by Sir Ernest Wills
2. Soulector owned by Mr H.J.Bowbeer
3. Carrots owned by Mr A.H.O.Riddell

The final meeting took place on Monday 25th March 1940.
Course today

Initially at Cary Park, and later at Petitor.

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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