Leicester Racecourse

History

Leicester Racecourse

The Course

It is an oval shaped course of about 1 mile 6 furlongs, with a straight 7 furlong course which joins the round course 4½ furlongs from the winning post.  The 7 furlong course runs downhill to half-way, uphill for 2 furlongs before levelling out for the last 1½ furlongs.  Races are run over distances between 5 furlongs and 1 mile 3 furlongs 183 yards.

Our most valuable flat race is the Listed King Richard III Stakes, run in April over 7 furlongs.  The steeplechase course, which is also about 1 mile 5 furlongs, has ten fences.  There are six fences, including the water jump and an open ditch, down the back straight, which runs inside the flat course.  On the turn to the home straight the steeplechase course switches to the outside. Prior to the 2009/10 National Hunt season, the open ditch, which was jumped as the fourth last fence on the turn from the back straight, was moved to the home straight.  The home straight now consists of four fences, with the open ditch taken as the third last fence. Hurdle races are run on the flat course.  The last 3 furlongs are uphill, so Leicester presents a stiff test of stamina.     

We hold approximately 30 race meetings a year; 19 Flat (a race over a course with no jumps) and 11 Jumps (this involves the horse and jockey to jump fences and ditches).  The Jumps are split into 2 major branches – Hurdles and Steeplechases.    

We have a whopping 106 stables on the racecourse including 6 special security stables for those high profile horses!  

The magnificent Racecourse grounds cover 220 acres of beautiful greenery.  On the Racecourse 1 lap equates to 1.75 miles; the longest Flat race: 1mile and 4f and the longest jump race: 2miles,6 1/2f.  The course consists of 10 fences with 2 open ditches and 1 water jump.  

Since July 2014 Leicester Racecourse has expanded with the 700sq metre event space; ‘The Kube.’  This spectacular space can hold up to 600 delegates cabaret style and a further 1000 theatre style.  This venue is perfect for conferences, meetings, events, exhibitions, weddings and many more…

History of horse racing in Leicester


The earliest evidence suggests that racing took place at Abbey Meadow, Leicester on 23 March 1603, the day before Queen Elizabeth I died.  The highlight of these early meetings was the Corporation Town Plate.  This was discontinued towards the end of the century but was re-introduced in 1720.  In 1740 meetings were transferred to St. Mary's Field, although racing was still held at Abbey Field.  However, in 1742 it was decided to end racing at Abbey Field because of flooding, so St. Mary's Field became the preferred location.

Leicester Racecourse was Established in 1773 at Victoria Park in Leicester, 110 years later we moved to Oadby in 1883.  In the late 18th Century the Racecourse staged some of the most valuable races in the UK, including ‘The Prince of Wales Stakes’ and ‘The Portland Stakes.’  This carried more prize money than any of the 5 classic races in 1889.


In 1807 the Leicester Gold Cup, worth 100 sovereigns, was first run at Victoria Park racecourse.  The first meeting at the present racecourse at Oadby took place on 24 July 1883.  Victoria Park became a cricket ground, with the grandstand becoming the cricket pavilion.

On 31 March 1921, a young apprentice jockey, Gordon Richards, rode the first winner of his career at Leicester: Gay Lord, trained by Martin Hartigan.   He went on to ride a total of 4,870 winners.  On Friday 20 January 1931, Golden Miller won his first race, the Gopsall Maiden Hurdle, over 2 miles at Leicester, and worth £83. Ridden by Bob Lyall, Golden Miller started 5/4 favourite and won easily.  He came back to Leicester in January 1935 and, ridden by Gerry Wilson, won the Mapperely 'Chase.  Golden Miller won five consecutive Cheltenham Gold Cups between 1932 and 1936, and the Grand National in 1934.

The racecourse had its heyday in the late nineteenth century when it staged some of the most valuable races in the United Kingdom, including the Prince of Wales Stakes and the Portland Stakes, both of which carried more prize money than any of the five British flat-racing Classics in 1889.

Leicester racecourse was the scene of the infamous Flockton Grey ringer case!
     
Flockton Grey  

Sire Dragonara Palace Grandsire Young Emperor
Dam Misippus Damsire Green God
Sex Gelding Foaled 5 June 1980
Owner Ken Richardson
Trainer Stephen Wiles
Record unraced
Flockton Grey was the British Racehorse at the centre of one of the largest betting scandals to hit British horseracing.  The affair remains the best-known case of a corrupt trainer and owner using a "ringer" to race in place of another horse. Because of the use of the ringer, Flockton Grey did not actually run in the race for which he became most famous.

Flockton Grey was entered into his first race for two-year-olds on March 29, 1982 at Leicester Racecourse.  As a debutant from an unsuccessful yard (Stephen Wiles had failed to train a winner in two years), the horse was priced at 10-1.  The perpetrators of the scam, Richardson and Wiles, saw an opportunity to make a quick profit and backed their horse with £20,000, spreading their money around several different betting shops to avoid detection.  They then arranged for a three-year-old horse, Good Hand, formerly owned by Richardson, to run in place of Flockton Grey.  According to the official weight for age scale, a three-year-old at that time of year ought to have carried 47 pounds more than a two-year-old so that Good Hand, meeting his younger opponents at level weights, had a huge advantage.  Good Hand was unsurprisingly far too strong for the competition, and easily won by 20 lengths.

Investigation The margin of victory caused immediate suspicion, and bookmakers refused to pay out.  A police investigation followed. Official race photographs revealed the winner had teeth too developed to be a two-year-old's.  Records of the course veterinarian disclosed that the winner had a conspicuous scar on its foreleg.  Investigators traced Flockton Grey to one of Wiles' yards, determining his identity by blood tests, but found no scar.  The deceit uncovered, Richardson was charged with conspiracy to defraud.  In June 1984, he was convicted, fined £20,000 with £25,000 in costs, and given a suspended 9-month prison sentence.  Following his conviction, the Jockey Club "warned off" Richardson for an unprecedented period of 25 years.  Wiles received a similar ban from racing. Jockey Kevin Darley was exonerated of any knowledge of the switch, and it was noted that a rider with inside knowledge could easily have held his horse back, minimising the winning margin and preventing any suspicion.

Flockton Grey remained in police custody, and was only "released" in 1986: he never competed in a race.  He lived to the advanced age of twenty-eight, spending his last twenty years at the stable of Mary Dick near Worksop.  On his death from a heart attack in 2008, Dick described him as "a gem, my favourite horse".  

Leicester Racecourse

A classic venue for racing, dining & events

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Leicester Racecourse - For a great day out!

LEICESTER RACECOURSE
Leicester Racecourse Co Ltd, Oadby, Leicester LE2 4AL
Tel: 0116 271 6515

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