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Earliest meeting: August 1727
Final meeting: Tuesday 20th September 1796
Wantage, an Oxfordshire market town that was historically part of Berkshire, is located in the Vale of the White horse. It seems highly appropriate therefore that the town held race meetings on Letcomb Downs throughout the 18th century. The first occasion when Wantage was included in Racing Calendars was in August 1727, and again in 1728 before racing lapsed. The next time it got a mention was the 3 day meeting which was held from Tuesday 11th to Thursday 13th August 1767 when the Wantage 4 year old Plate was won by Lady Thigh, a bay filly owned by Mr Stroud, who beat Rambridge and Lottery. A new course on Letcomb Downs was used for the meeting on Wednesday 18th July 1770. This continued to be the venue for the 2 day meeting from Tuesday 5th to Wednesday 6th August 1794 when the opening Town Plate was won by Sir John Lade’s Serpent defeating General.  The next year, on Wednesday 23rd September 1795, the Wantage Cup fell to Sir F Poole’s Mealy, this time getting the better of Serpent. Meetings continued for just one more year, with the final card staged on Tuesday 20th September 1796.

This racecourse is covered in Volume 2 of Racecourses Here Today and Gone Tomorrow. Ordering details shown below.
Local Patrons Sir John Lade, Sir F Poole
Principal Races Wantage Town Plate, Wantage 2 mile Purse

Tuesday 5th & Wednesday 6th August 1794

Wantage Town Plate over 4 miles
1. Serpent owned by Sir John Lade
2. General owned by Mr Turner

Wantage 2 mile Purse
1. Mealy owned by Sir F Poole
2. Top-Gallant owned by Mr Dundas
3. Tuzzimuzzy owned by Mr Turner

Tuesday 22nd to Wednesday 23rd September 1795

Wantage £50 All Age Plate over 4 miles
1. Triptolemus owned by Mr Tate
2. Keren-Happuch owned by Sir F.Poole
3. Don Quixote owned by Mr Lade

The Wantage Cup over 4 miles
1. Mealy owned by Sir F.Poole
2. Serpent owned by Sir J. Lade

The final meeting took place on Tuesday 20th September 1796.
Course today On Letcomb Downs.
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 johnwslusar@gmail.com

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 johnwslusar@gmail.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.
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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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