Plumpton Racecourse
History of Plumpton Racecourse

Plumpton Racecourse historian Stewart Nash has compiled the Plumpton Racecourse History Book which is a superb read and one which the horse racing enthusiast, or those interested in the social and local history of the area, can equally enjoy.

Copies can be purchased from the racecourse office or online, where we will post this to you as soon as possible.
Just go to the Buy Tickets section on our website and click on Plumpton History Book to make the purchase. 

With a foreword by Sir A P McCoy, it’s a perfect present (for yourself or loved ones) and at just £10, it’s a bargain too.

Horseracing first took place at Plumpton Racecourse in 1884.

The foundation and survival of Plumpton as a racecourse is principally due to the foresight and commitment of four men.  First in 1876 Thomas Henry Case who founded the venue as the first enclosed hare coursing meeting and subsequently, in 1884, introduced horse racing.  Second to Isidore Kerman who bought the course in 1961 and brought about many of the improvements that were needed to ensure the course’s survival and finally to Peter Savill and Adrian Pratt who purchased the course in 1998 again to ensure its economic survival and protect it from the developers.

Date Description
1847 1 Oct. Haywards Heath to Lewes railway line opened
C 1870 Ashurst Farm, Plumpton purchased by Mr. W. F. Wheatley
1876 28 Dec. -First enclosed coursing meeting at Plumpton.
1882 2 May. -Plumpton Coursing Company Ltd. Established
1884 11 Feb – First horse race meeting at Plumpton – The first race a hunters; selling hurdle was won by Cowslip ridden by Harry Escott. Escott completed a treble on the first day including riding a second winner on Cowslip. First steeplechase won by Olanleigh ridden by his owner Capt Fisher. Total of four days racing took place in 1884. No favourites won on until Topsy won on the third days racing (2 June) 6/4fav.
1885 Total of six days racing took place, with the first two-day meeting taking place on 15/16 Dec. Northampton won two races on 6 February ridden by 2 different jockeys W Nightingall and Mr Abington
1886 No racing too place due to financial situation.
1887 Racing resumed with 10 days racing under the auspices of a new management company formed. 4 Feb – The Nightingale won the Naval and Military Plumpton Cup in a canter at odds of 1/15.
1888 The Plumpton Sporting Estate passes into the ownership of Mr Alexander Popham. 13 days racing take place.
1889 6 Apr – Coursing meetings ceased. 29 Apr – 14th King’s Hussars regimental meeting takes place. 11 Nov – Plumpton Coursing Company Ltd. Dissolved. 15 days racing take place
1890 17/18 Jan – Three horses Swindler, Windscales and Zelotes win on both days of meeting. 14 Feb – New steeplechase circuit opened see Fig. 1 on course layout. 31 Mar – All six races at the 14th Hussars meeting are won by the favourite. 12 days racing take place.
1891 17/18 Apr – Torquay wins on both days of meeting. Programme reduced to nine days.
1892 11 Apr – Inniskilling Dragoon Guards regimental meeting take place. Covertside wins after refusing in the Ovingdean Chase. Covertside returns to the paddock but comes out onto the course to win after his two opponents have also both refused
1893 Alexander Popham declared bankrupt and meeting then run by Mr Bleakley. Programme further reduced to seven days.
1894 16 Dec – Jockey Billy Sensier dies in Lewes Hospital following a fall from Topthorn in the Punch Bowl Selling Hurdle the previous day. Programme reduced to six days
1895 Programme maintained at six days.
1896 1 Feb – All six favourites won
1897 Racing programme reduced to five days.
1898 14/15 Jan – Deep Level and Hurley win on both days of the meeting.
1900 Racing programme expanded to 7 days including on 23 Apr – The Sussex Hunts meeting. 6 Dec – Horse called George Fordham namesake of Champion flat race jockey of wins the Cookskbridge Maiden Hurdle (wins again in 25 Feb1902 and 28 Feb 1905)
1901 22 Apr – Annual Southdown Hunt Races held at Plumpton (continued until 1914).
1902 1 Mar – Plumpton Racecourse Limited established. Pratt and Co appointed racecourse managers. New two miles hurdle chute start in centre of course introduced. 26 Mar – Coursing re-introduced. 29 Mar – Plumpton races on Easter Saturday for the first time.
1904 Tattersalls Grandstand transferred from defunct Northampton racecourse. Programme extended to eight days 22 Dec – Due to fog the last two races are postponed to the following day making an 8 race card.
1905 A horse called Wild Gander dead heats twice – 27 Feb – with Sea Log – stakes divided and on 22 Apr – with Cripplegate. This second time a decider is run with the race going to Cripplegate. 21 Dec – Favourite wins all six races
1906 Programme reduced to six days. 17 Dec – two apparently unrelated horses Mr Schomberg and Lord Schomberg win on the same afternoon.
1908 Meeting planned for 8 January postponed to the following day due to frost and the second day abandoned. The first time a Plumpton meeting officially noted in form book as lost due to the weather. Only four days racing take place. 2 Oct – Final coursing meeting.
1909 10 Apr – Marcellin dead heats with Santa Claus in the Uckfield Selling Hurdle. Marcellin wins the decider at 2/7 – the last time a dead heat was run off at Plumpton.
1911 7 Jan – of 15 runners in 3 steeplechase only 3 completed the course – one race declared void no finishers.
1913 Only 4 days racing staged. No Southdown Hunt meeting
1914 Five days racing stage – 20 Apr – Final Southdown Hunt Meeting.
December meeting abandoned due to war.
1915 3 Apr – Final meeting for duration of World War I.
1916 to 1918 No racing due to World War I
1919 17 Dec – Racing resumes at Plumpton. Lady Alicia (ridden by Reardon) wins first race. Promoter (Glaiser) wins on both days of meeting. 18 Dec – Royal Raider wins the Three Years old Hurdle the last time a hurdle race was run over one and a half miles at Plumpton.
1920 Three days racing completed – December Meeting abandoned due to frost and snow. 5 Jan – Both runners fell in the Novices Chase but whilst Amerongen was remounted by his rider Captain Beaumont to win, the other, Longerline was remounted not by his original jockey but by a spectator in the form of jockey D Dale. As Dale could draw the weight he was officially placed second. 20 April George Poole trains five winners.
1921 Five days racing are staged a pattern that continues (weather permitting) until the outbreak of world War II. 7 February – five of the six races are won by the favourite.
1923 25 January – all six races won by the favourite. 31 Mar – The 14th Earl of Westmorland rides his first winner on Playful in the Amateur Riders Handicap Hurdle. Lord Westmorland later became a director of Arsenal Football Club
1924 27 Feb – leading rider L B Rees disqualified for foul riding and boring after winning the Sussex Handicap Hurdle on Lionceau
1925 Only three of the planned days racing take place due to bad weather. 28 Jan – All three runners fall in the Brookside Handicap Chase but two are remounted and Red Empress wins. 29 Jan – All four runners refuse in the Ringmer Novices Chase, which is declared void.
1926 3 Apr – Five of the six races are won by the favourite. 13 Dec – Start Again and Morning Sun dead heat for the Ovingdean Handicap Chase. The rider of Morning Sun objects to the other dead heater but it is overruled and the result stands.
1927 Racing takes place on New Year’s Day for the first time (not then a Bank Holiday). 21 – Feb – No betting is returned on the two runner Plumpton Chase won by Hugh O’Neill, ridden by Mr P Dennis, who finishes alone.
1928 2 Jan – Racing postponed to 3 Jan due to frost and snow. Card planned for 3 Jan is abandoned.
1929 1 Feb -racing abandoned due to snow. 22 Apr – Plumpton National Hunt Flat race is the last National Hunt Flat race run at Plumpton until 200?
1930 1 Feb -The Tote operates at Plumpton for the first time. Lindholm wins the Brookside Handicap Chase at 20/1 but pays only 10/1 on the Tote. December meeting abandoned due to frost, fog and floods.
1932 2 Apr – Southdown Hunt Bona Fide Hunt meeting held at Plumpton (continued until 1939).
1933 13 Feb – Croissant wins the Four Year Old Hurdle at 20/1. December meeting abandoned due to frost.
1934 31 March – Fulke Walwyn wins the Uckfield Selling Handicap Hurdle riding Feud. Fulke Walwyn goes on to train 30 winners at Plumpton. 10 Dec – Ron Smyth rides two winners. Ron Smyth becomes leading Epsom trainer.
1935 1 Jan – Trelissick (Hi Nicholson) wins Chailey Maiden Hurdle at 25/1 pays 44/1 on Tote. 2 Feb – Tufty (Mr R Courage) wins Novices’ Chase at 20/1 pays 56/1 on Tote. 25 February – abandoned waterlogged.
1936 January and first February meetings both abandoned. 25 Feb – Backsight winner of the Grand Military Gold Cup at Sandown in 1933 wins the Plumpton Hunters’ Chase
1937 Racecourse Betting Control Board provide grant of £877 for drainage improvements. February and first March meetings abandoned.
1938 Easter and Southdown Bona Fide Hunt meetings both abandoned due to hard ground. Five out of six favourites win at the 18 Mar meeting and also at meeting on 12 Nov.
1939 15 Mar – The Plumpton Hunters’ Chase is won by Silver Grail ridden by Harry Llewellyn – Olympic Gold medallist in 1952. November and December meetings abandoned due to outbreak of war, but Hurst Park meeting planned for 16 Dec transferred to Plumpton.
1940 Only one day’s racing takes place, Easter Saturday when Matt Feakes rides a double.
1941 Five days racing takes place in 6 weeks period, late January – early March including one transferred from Fontwell Park. The 1942 Cheltenham Gold Cup winner Medoc II wins at Plumpton on 22 Feb and 8 Mar. 8 March last meeting to be staged until 1946.
1942-45 No racing due to World War II
1946 The first post war meeting (25/26 Jan) has to be abandoned due to frost and racing resumes on 20 Feb. Daniel Ruttle riding Pennywise is the first post war winner. Course layout amended so that water jump is last in back straight rather than in front of the stands. 14 Dec – A record 26 runners contest the Beginners Hurdle Race won by Roger Burford riding Crowley. Easter meeting increased to 2 days
1947 Programme increased to nine meeting per season.
1948 The Marquess of Abergavenny Challenge Cup run for the first time and won by Southborough ridden by Commander Richard Courage (possibly the only naval officer to ride a winner at Plumpton).
1949 Programme further increased to ten days per season.
1950 Nickel Coin (winner of the 1951 Grand National) wins the Abergavenny Challenge Cup
1951 Zarter trained at Lewes by Tom Masson win the Abergavenny Challenge Cup for the first time (win the race again in 1952.). Zarter becomes a Plumpton specialist with seven course wins.
1952 13 Feb – meeting abandoned due to the death of King George VI
1953 28 Jan – A dramatic dead heat finish to the Lewes Chase with African Mission just getting up to dead heat with Grand Refrain follows a pile up at the ninth fence where Beau Diable falls and brings down three others.
1954 17 Nov – Cuckfield Novices Chase declared void when all 7 runners fail to complete the course
1957 Nov – jockey Clive Chapman rides his first career winner on Mushtara.
1958 19 Nov – jockey David Mould rides his first career winner at Plumpton on Straight Hill.
1959 23 Feb – A huge field of 23 goes to post for the Crowborough Hurdle won by Foreign Exchange ridden by E Clayton. 23 Sept – A long hot and dry summer results in the September meeting being abandoned due to hard ground.
1960 Programme increase to 13 meetings per season. Roger Roberts rides his first winner Great Inca to win the Marquess of Abergavenny Challenge Cup.
1961 Course purchased by Isidore Kerman. 25 Jan – What a Myth (Cheltenham Gold Cup winner 1969) wins the Four Year Old Hurdle.
1962 Brow of hill on inside course reduced in height to improve viewing. 23 Apr – Glynde Novices’ Chase declared void as race started four minutes early.
1963 15 Apr – First Plumpton winner for the Queen Mother, Super Fox ridden by Clive Chapman. 26 Oct – Anglo (Grand National winner 1966) wins the Cuckfield Novices’ Chase.
1964 New hostel for stable staff opened. Race programme increased to 16 days per season. 15 Feb – jockey Ron Atkins rides his first career winner at Plumpton on Tudor Meteor
1965 19 Apr – Sayaknow (John Gamble) finishes third in John Hare Handicap Hurdle but awarded race after both the first and second are disqualified 20 May – First evening meeting takes place at Plumpton. 15 Nov – Drinny’s Double (Cheltenham Two Mile Champion Chase winner 1967 & 1968) wins the Beacon Novices Chase
1966 10 Oct – The NH Centenary Cup run to celebrate the centenary of the National Hunt Committee is won by Solbina ridden by Eddie Harty. 31 Oct – John Gifford completes a four timer.
1967 New Members’ Enclosure Stand (The Regency Stand – now Sussex Stand) opened. Richard Dennard rides his first career winner on Easter Saturday on Extel. 10 Oct – What a Myth wins the Curzon House Club Chase. Two meetings in December and one in January 1968 are abandoned due to the foot and mouth epidemic.
1968 17 Jan – Jockey Bob Champion rides his first career winner at Plumpton on Altercation. 13 Feb- Roger Rowell rides his first career winner at Plumpton on Vaux-le-Vicomte. 24 Sept – Honey End (J. Gifford) beats Foinavon (J Buckingham to win the Kingston Chase a straight reversal of the result of the 1967 Grand National
1969 9 Aug – Rock Band ÔBlack Sabbath’ perform live at Plumpton Racecourse. This event is followed a week later by a concert by ÔThe Who’.
1970 30 Mar – Pendil (King George VI Chase 1972 and 1973) wins the John Hare Handicap Hurdle. Brighton newspaper ÔThe Argus’ sponsors the Evening Argus Challenge Cup for the first time.
1971 Racecourse directors announce early start to the 1971/2 season with first meeting on 18 August. 20 Dec – All 6 runners in Keymer Chase fall. Major Share who falls at the last is remounted to finish alone.
1972 21 Feb – Jeff Pearce rides his first career winner at Plumpton on Fascination. 19 Jul – Harness racing takes place for the first (and only?) time
1973 17 Aug – Silver ring enclosure amalgamated with Tattersalls.
1974 26 Aug – Opera Cloak is declared a non-runner in the Poethlyn Novices Chase. Opera Cloak, along with Ankerwyke a non-runner at Southwell turn out to be the other two legs of the infamous ÔGay Future Cartmel coup’
1975 A record six meetings are abandoned in the 1974/75 season
1976 All 16 meetings planned for 1975/76 season completed without abandonment – the first season without any interruption since the 1938/39 season.
20 Sept – Eastern Admiral (John Farrant) completes course along after sole opponent Portnahinse unseat rider Jim McNaught at the first.
1977 19 Sept – Tingle Creek wins the South Downs Handicap Chase (This was a Plumpton race and the formbook shows it as Plumpton, but this was run at Fontwell for one year only)
1978 Six meetings are abandoned during the 1977/78 season
1979 1 May -Final two races abandoned when course becomes waterlogged. Bonidon ridden by Gary Moore for trainer father Charlie Moore wins at each of the first three meetings of the 1979/80 season.
1980 4 Mar – HRH The Prince of Wales rides Long Wharf to finish second in the Mad Hatters private sweepstake behind Classified ridden by TV presenter Derek Thompson.
1982 1 Feb – Jockey Philip Blacker rides a treble
1983 26 April – New weighing room opened by Sir Ian Trethowan
1984 1983/84 season completed with record 17 days racing. 17 Aug – Course realigned (water jump and open ditch moved – chase course moved to outside in home straight).
1985 26 Feb – First Bout (winner of Triumph Hurdle at Cheltenham 1985) wins the Catford Four Year Old Hurdle. 16 Aug – Lilly Leaf wins the Chailey Novices’ Hurdle at 66/1
1986 For the third time six meetings are lost during the 1985/86 season.
1987 3 March – Pavilion Stand (now Southdown Stand) opened by Sir Ian Trethowan. 9 Nov – Stargaze (Ray Goldstein) win the Sid Lanaway Memorial Handicap Chase at odds of 100/1 – a Plumpton record.
1988 Eliogarty ridden by Caroline Beasley (winners of the 1983 Cheltenham Foxhunters’ Chase wins the Clapper Cup Hunter Chase.
1989 22 Nov – Docklands Express (winner of Racing Post Chase, Kempton 1991 & 1992 wins the Gilt Edge Thoroughbred Racing Novices’ Chase
1990 Kybo Stand (now Lewes Stand) opened.
1991 11 Mar – Nacona win Ardingly Novices’ Hurdle at 66/1
1993 30 Aug – Manhattan Boy wins the Peacehaven Selling Hurdle for the fifth time and completes his record of 14 wins at Plumpton.
1994 Second day of Easter meeting abandoned due to waterlogging. 29 August – jockey Adrian Maguire rides record five winners on the six race card. 12 Sept – St John’s Hill is a first winner at Plumpton for jockey Timmy Murphy. 18 Oct – Doctor-J is the first winner at Plumpton for the winning most jockey Tony ÔAP’ McCoy
1995 30 Oct – Royal Thimble is a first Plumpton winner for jockey Richard Johnson. 5 December the final three races are abandoned due to snow.
1996 4 Nov – Lingfield Park assume responsibility for management.
1997 17 Nov – An ambulance gets bogged on the course during the running of the November Novices’ Hurdle leading to the final two flights being omitted and a run-in of over three furlongs.
1998 Plumpton Racecourse purchased by Mr. Peter Savill and Capt. Adrian Pratt. 6 Feb – Erintante trained by Francois Doumen is the first winner trained in France.
1999 5 April – Water jump used for the final time. The Joker Jack Retirement Chase is run to commemorate the 99th and final race of Joker Jack 34 times of whose races were at Plumpton. 13 Sept – Steeplechase and hurdle race courses realigned (steeplechases on outside and hurdles on inside throughout). All weather parade walk in front of stands opened.
2000 37 meetings are completed between April 1998 and October 2000 the longest period of racing at Plumpton without interruption since 1927.
2001 12 Mar – Racing goes ahead despite concerns expressed by local farmers regarding risk of spreading foot and mouth disease. Five meetings are lost to weather during the 2000/01 season. 11 Sep – Little Tuska provides a first winner at Plumpton for Durham based trainer Norman Mason and jockey Kenny Johnson. 16 Oct – TV presenters Alice Plunkett and Alex Hammond finish first and second on Redemption and Guilder respectively in the Moorcroft Charity race. Both horses are trained by Paul Webber.
2002 29 Apr – The Restart Claiming Hurdle is declared void after all the runners take the wrong course. The Jockey Club subsequently quash the local stewards decision and reinstate the winner Potentate ridden by Gerry Supple. 4 Dec – Madison Avenue trained by Christian Von der Recke is the first winner at Plumpton trained in Germany.
2003 20 Oct – Comply or Die (Grand National winner 2008) wins the Commercial Mortgages Novices Hurdle. 15 Dec – first fence past stands omitted in all chases due to low sun. The first time this reason led to a course adjustment had been made at Plumpton
2004 1 Mar – Solo Dancer’s win provides a first success under rules for trainer Helen Bridges and rider Lucy Bridges
2005 14 Feb – First career win for James Kington on Caballe. 8 May – First career wins for James Reveley (Time Marches On) and Stuart Haddon (It’s My Party). 12 Dec – Voy Por Ustedes wins the Coral Casino Handicap Chase en route to winning the Arkle Challenge Cup at Cheltenham and thus securing the ÔPlumpton bonus’
2006 16 Jan – Alright Now M’Lud wins the Skybet Press Red Novices’ Hurdle – a first ever 33/1 winner for A P McCoy. 14 May – jockey Kevin Tobin rides first career winner on Bartercard. 16 Oct – Take the Stand (T J O’Brien) sets new course record of 5mins 57.6 secs for 3miles 1 fur Chase.
2007 1 Mar – Juveigneur wins Carlsberg Novices Hurdle at 20/1 on. 5 Dec – 6 out of 7 favourites win.
2008 21 Apr – only 4 of the 13 runners complete the course in the Tommy Carson Handicap Chase named after the six times course winner.
Appointment of Plumpton’s first female Chief Executive, Claire Sheppard
2009 9 Feb – 3,000th winner for Tony McCoy. Groundstaff win award for best jumps course.
2011 Turftalk Staff engagement program.
2014 Groundstaff award received and Mark Cornford (Clerk of the Course) received a lifetime achievement award.