Probus Hears About the History of Newbury Racecourse
Those readers who have not had the pleasure of an exciting day at Newbury Racecourse the talk by Probus Club member David Wickens shed some light on many interesting facets of our local horse racing course.
The Jockey Club, formed in 1750, licensed horse racing and controlled all matters that became known as “the sport of Kings.” The first record of racing in the area was in 1805 when heathlands and country estates of the landed gentry were used, with this style continuing for a century.
The present course was the vision of Kingsclere trainer John Porter, who had fortunate connections with King Edward VII. After several designs had been rejected, finally approval was given by the Jockey Club to build the course mainly to his design. The cost was £57,240 with the first race meeting held in 1905. The course was recognised as having many original features for the owner/trainers, horses, jockeys and members of the public.
During both world wars racing was suspended, however the racecourse played an important role for the military with a variety of uses and especially in WW1 when it was used as a prisoner of war camp for captured German soldiers.
Over the years Newbury has had several important Flat and Jump races and is recognised as one of the “Top Ten” courses – attracting many famous horses and jockeys from all over the country to compete for big prize money.
Redevelopment of the racecourse started in 2010 with new facilities financed by the sale of land for housing and apartments on and around the course together with a children’s nursery, hotel and gym. The venue is also used for outdoor Pop concerts and was selected as a vaccination centre during the Covid pandemic.
See www.probusbasingstoke.club for more information about the Probus Club for retired business and professional managers.