Racetracks and Races during the Regency Period
Published on July 13, 2012 by lahilden | Views: 2370

The Royal Ascot first took place in 1711, when Queen Anne, whilst out riding, came upon an open heath not far from Windsor Castle and decided it an ideal location for horseraces.  Flat races as well as steeplechase races were held at this location.  (A Steeplechase is a race involving hurdles.)

The Prince of Wales made the Ascot one of the most fashionable occasions of the Season.  The Regent loved horseracing so much that in 1813 Parliament passed an act to ensure that the racing grounds remained open to the public due to the large crowds it gathered.  Since the Prince Regent was known for his expensive and extravagant lifestyle, which caused great debt, he was able to rack up costs on his horses and vehicles to a whopping 30,000 a year.  When the King refused to increase the Prince’s income, the Regent at one point was forced to sell nearly the majority of his stock to accumulate the losses he accrued.  The Prince was released from his debts for the years of 1784-1786 by Parliament.  And yet again he returned to the track in 1791. Due to a discrepancy on the track and gossip that one of the Prince’s Jockeys threw a race, the Prince of Wales allowed his establishment to be disposed of at Tattersalls in 1792.

The Oaks Stakes is a flat horserace at Epsom Downs over the distance of one mile, and is scheduled to take place each year in June.  (Its original distance was two miles, until 1813.)  The first race took place in 1776.

St Ledger Stakes is a flat horserace run at Doncaster over the distance of one mile and is scheduled in September.  The initial running was held at Cantley Common in September 1776.  The race was moved to its present location, Town Moor, in 1778.  It is the last of the five in the Classic to be run and it is longer than the other four races.

The Derby Stakes (the Epsom Derby) is a flat horse race over one mile and is scheduled for June.  It is the most prestigious of the country’s five Classics.  This race originated following a celebration of the Oaks Stakes in 1779, leading to the first Derby Stakes in may of 1780.

2,000 Guineas Stakes is a flat race in Newmarket over a distance of a mile and is scheduled to take place in late April or early May.  This race was first run in 1809.  The race was established by the Jockey Club.  The race was named after the original prize funds.  (A guinea amounted to 21 shillings or £1.10, so approx. $3,400 US)

1,000 Guineas Stakes is a flat race run on the Rowley Mile in Newmarket over the distance of one mile and is scheduled to take place in late April or early May.  The race was first run in 1814.  This race was also established by the Jockey Club.

The Grand National is held at Aintree Racecourse, near Liverpool.  It is a handicapped steeplechase run over a distance of four miles; with the horses jumping 30 fences over two circuits of the course.  The race has been held since 1839.

For more information on The Jockey Club and Tattersalls, see previous blog.