To complement the iminent July Festival meeting at Newmarket here are some facts and images relating to the first runnings of the major races of the meeting.
The July Stakes - first running 1786
The July Stakes is the oldest two-year-old race in the Racing Calendar. The original conditions of the race stipulated that horses sired by Eclipse and Highflyer should carry three pounds extra. First run in 1786 it was run over an extended five furlongs of the Bunbury Course.
The first winner was Bullfinch, a chesnut colt by Woodpecker out of Flirt. Ridden by John Pratt and owned by Lord Clermont.
Lord Clermont (1722-1806) was a close friend of the Prince of Wales and a person of some consequence in the racing world. One of the courses at Newmarket was named after him for a time. Two other close associates of Clermont were Charles Fox and Lord Foley. Bullfinch spent most of the remaining part of his career running in matches (with mixed success) against horses owned by Fox, Foley and others.
Redevelopment of the July Racecourse - 22nd September 1931
The Cherry Hinton Stakes - first running 1947
The first running of the Cherry Hinton Stakes in 1947 was won by Sir Humphrey de Trafford's Great Fun. A brown filly by Big Game out of Merry Devon, trained by Capt Boyd-Rochfort and ridden by Harry Carr.
Meyrick Good wrote in Winners for 1948 that 'one glance at Great Fun is enough to show why she was raced but little in her first season...Even in winning the Cherry Hinton she displayed unmistakable signs of greeness and stood higher behind than in front of the saddle. She should, however grow into a filly above the average in size...The ability is there all right. It is quite within range of possibility that she will make for her sporting owner a better three than two-year-old.'
Unfortunately that was not to be. Her connections clearly thought a lot of her as she ran in the 1000 Guineas trial Stakes, the 1000 Guineas and the Oaks but was down the field in all of them and her other few races. It seems she did not develop in the right way.
July Racecourse redevelopment - 14th October 1931
The Princess of Wales's Stakes - first running 1894
The race was founded in 1894 to honour Princess Alexandra of Denmark, who became Princess of Wales on her marriage to the future King Edward VII in 1862. The first winner of the race was the 1893 Triple Crown winner Isinglass, owned by Col. Harry McCalmont of Cheveley Park and ridden by Tommy Loates. Interestingly from 1894 to 1904 the race was won by three Triple Crown winners:
A trio of great racehorses. They liked to be able to count their ribs in those days!
July Racecourse development - 2nd November 1931
The Falmouth Stakes - first running 1911
This mile race for fillies was named in honour of the 6th Viscount Falmouth (1819-1889) who was one of the most respected and successful owner-breeders of the Victorian era. He had success in no less than sixteen Classics from 1862 until he retired from the Turf in 1883. Falmouth was a genuine sportsman without being a bettor. He raced for the love of racing.
The first running of the Falmouth Stakes was won by Alice, owned by the Viscount's descendant Lord Falmouth and ridden by Herbert Jones. It looks like the running of Alice in the race was contrived to result in a 'family' win. Her odds were 1/10 ! Alice went on to win the Yorkshire Oaks later that year.
July Racecourse redevelopment - 19th November 1931
The July Cup - first running 1876
Queen Victoria bred the first winner of the July Cup, a fine big bay colt called Springfield. He was bought out of the Hampton Court Stud by Mr J H Houldsworth and was sent to Jimmy Ryan at Green Lodge Stables at Newmarket. Ryan was great-great uncle to present Newmarket trainer William Jarvis.
The intial running in 1876 was a curious affair. There were only three runners, the three-year-old Springfield, Crann Tair and Echanson, both two-year-olds [eligible at that time]. Echanson bolted and it was left to Springfield to beat Crann Tair by 12 lengths. Springfield did however win a more competitive renewal the next year. In all Springfield won 17 of his 19 races including the Gimcrack Stakes and Champion Stakes.
The July Racecourse in the 1930s
Well it's onward now to Wednesday July 7th 2010 ! See you there.