Yorkshire Racing & Breeding History
Recent ~ 20th Century ~ 19th Century ~ Early History

Year Event
1537 Sir Arthur Darcy writes to King Henry VIII recommending that he make use of the stud at Jervaulx saying "....... should have there the most best pasture that should be in England, hard and sound of kind. For assuredly the breed of Jervaulx for horses was the tried breed of the north ; the stallions and mares so well sorted that I think in no realm should we find the like of them".
1595 A racecourse first appears on a map of Doncaster Town Moor.
1619 At Kiplingcotes the earliest known rules of racing are drawn up. This race the 'Kiplingcotes Derby' is still run today, although it is not run under Jockey Club rules and most closely resembles a point-to-point, without the fences. The race reputedly actually began in 1555, although records only exist from 1619 onwards. The race is run on the third Thursday in March and involves locals challenging each other to race from Etton nr. Beverely to Middleton-On -The-Wolds, a distance of about four miles.
1648 James D'Arcy of Sebury Stud, Bedale takes the 'Sedbury Royal Mare' (family number 13) from his father's stud at Hornby Castle (between Bedale and Catterick). Her notable descendants include Highflyer, Pharos, Plassy, Ferdinand, Darshaan, Tourbillon, Seattle Slew, Mr.Prospector, and Princely Gift.

Hornby Castle today, click for a larger image
Hornby Castle, click for a larger image

1655 The old Bald Peg mare, based at Helmsley, produces a mare who later was dam of Spanker. This is family number 6 and has produced Diomed, Hyperion, Big Game, Grey Sovereign, Count Fleet, Mossborough, Snow Knight, Fair Trial and Tenerani.
1680 The mare 'Bustler Mare' (family number 8) was known to be based at Mr.Huttons stud at Marske, Nr.Richmond at this time. Her descendants include Marske, Nijinsky, El Gran Senor, Raise A Native, Grundy, Red God, Ruffian, Icecapade, Majestic Light, Menow, Heliopolis, Sir Ivor, Sassafras, Shantung, Damascus, Whirlaway, Zilzal and Bold Ruler.
  Another original mare based at Marske was 'Hutton's Old Spot Mare' (family number 16) her descendants include Ormonde, Sceptre, Bahram, Bois Roussel, Crepello, Holy Bull, Desmond, Green Dancer, Herbager, Slip Anchor, Steinlen, Bulldog, Fappiiano, Dastur and Hard Ridden.
1670s King Charles II commissions James D'Arcy, the master of the Royal Studs to supply him with "twelve extra-ordinary good colts' for a fee of 800 per year from his Sedbury Stud near Bedale. The King bred very few horses himself and the 'Royal Mares' mentioned in early General Stud Books were probably just the mares D'Arcy used to supply the King with horses, some of these are listed below:
  One of these mares based at Sedbury was 'Lord Darcy's Blacklegs Royal Mare' (family number 7) and her descendants include West Australian, Persimmon, Sicambre, Le Levanstell, Pall Mall, Caergwrle, Mieuxce, Rockefella, Kampala, Danzig, Jim French and Serena's Song.
  Another such mare was 'Sedbury Royal Mare' (family number 11) whose descendants include Birdcatcher, Sr.Simon, Orme, High Top, Nunthorpe, War Admiral, Stop The Music, Zeddaan, Thunder Gulch, Gummo and Hill Gail.
  Another 'Sedbury Royal Mare' formed family number 12 and her descendants include Eclipse, Cox's Ridge, Roberto, Rialto, The Bard, Lexington and Voltaire.
1685 The 'Layton Barb Mare' was born at the Sedbury Stud, Bedale. This is mare family number 4 and notable descendants include Matchem, Apology, Nearco, Man O'War, Ribot, Habitat, Ribero, Graustark, His Majesty, Majestic Prince, Boldnesian, Hail To Reason, Triptych, Ile de Bourbon, Storm Bird and Balanchine.
1687 The stallion Byerley Turk is captured by Captain Byerley, after using him as a saddlehorse he was sent to stud first a Middridge Grange in Co.Durham and later at Goldsborough Hall, York. Through his son Jigg, this sireline is responsible for the likes of Tourbillon and The Tetrarch. Goldsborough was later used as a stud by Lord Harewood, and then became a nursing home, in September 2003 however it was put up for sale, along with 10 acres of parkland.
1690 Beverley races are started on the area known as The Westwood, some 1,174 acres of common land.
1704 Thomas Darley, sends the Darley Arabian to his home at Aldby Park, Buttercrambe, Nr.York from Syria. Foaled in 1700 he stood at Aldby Park throughout his career, and died aged 30. Through his sons the own brothers Flying Childers and, more signficantly, Barlett's Childers 90% of the world's bloodstock can be traced back to this stallion, far outnumbering the Godolphin Arabian (who reputedly also stood for some time near Bedale). and the aforementioned Byerley Turk. Indeed recent research shows that in 95% of thoroughbreds the 'Y' chromosome can be traced back to the Darley Arabian.
1708 Daniel Defoe in his 'Tour of Great Britain' recorded that "the country round Bedale, indeed the whole county, is more or less full of jockeys and dealers in horses, and the breed in this and the next county is so well known that, though the pedigree of them is not preserved as in Arabia, yet are their stallions denominated by name that never fails to advance the price according to the reputation of the sire. Let foreigners boast as they will of Barb and Turkish horses, I believe that some of the gallopers of this county and the Bishoprick of Durham will out-do for speed and strength the swiftest horse that was ever bred in Turkey or Barbary.".
1709 York holds the first fully reported race meeting. The victory of Wart (owned by Thomas Metcalfe of Northallerton) in the Gold Cup being the first recorded entry in the Racing Calendar.
1714 Leonard Childers of Cantley Hall, Doncaster bred the famous Flying Childers, although the horse was later sold to the Duke of Devonshire. He was never beaten and is still regarded as one of the fastest horses ever raced. He later retired to Chatsworth, Derbyshire although he mainly covered mares owned by the Duke, as he was too far away from the main breeding centre of Yorkshire.
  Flying Childer's own brother Bartlett's Childers was the more successful stallion and stood at his owners Nuttle Court, nr.Masham. Being available to Yorkshire breeders he stood a much better chance at stud and sired a good many winners, the most important of which was Squirt, see below.
  Marske, a grandson of Bartlett's Childers (via Squirt), was foaled at the village of the same name near Richmond. He was later to be the sire of the great Eclipse.
1723 What was probably the world's first horse race for Lady Jockey's is run at Ripon.
1731 Racing in York is transferred to it's current home, the Knavesmire, having previously been held at Rawcliffe Ings and the Forest Galtres. The first meeting was held on the 16th August and lasted for six days.
1731 Bedale stages the first race for three-year-olds.
1735 The Chaplain to the Earl of Oxford recorded in his diary, after a visit to Hambleton and Richmond "In this part of the country the best horses are said to be bred, and everybody here is born a jockey, and any stranger may soon be furnished with all the cant and trick belonging to the way of trading".
1738 The first recognised racing is held at Pontefract.
1739 Middleham has a racecourse laid out on the High Moor. This outline of the course is still used as gallops to this day. There was a Crown course (5 furlongs and 88 yds) and a Gold Cup course (3 miles), as well as the two mile course.


Middleham High Moor, July 2005, is there a better place in the world to train racehorses?!?
Click for a larger image.

1740 An Act of parliament is passed decreeing that racing can only take place at Hambleton (where Bryan Smart and Kevin Ryan now train), York and Newmarket. So two out of the three official racecourses in the country were in Yorkshire.
1752 (or 53) Sir Charles Turner of Kirkleatham ran a match for 1000 Guineas with the Earl Of March that he could ride ten miles across country near Richmond, taking in 40 fences within an hour. He covered the distance (and jumps) in a mere 35 minutes. Arguably this was one of the first ever steeplechases.
1760 Gimcrack (after whom the race at York is known) was foaled, he was later known as "The Wonder of the North" and didn't retire to stud until 1771.
1765 Issac Cape becomes the first professional trainer to base himself in the Middleham area (at Tupgill Park where James Bethell now trains).

Middleham Low Moor, click for larger image
Horses returning from Middleham Low Moor, click for a larger image

1766 The Doncaster Cup is run for the first time, being the course's oldest present day race.
1767 'The Ancient Fraternitie of Gimcracks' aka The Gimcrack Club is formed. This was an annual gathering of racing supporters and the club was named after the famous horse of the day. When the Gimcrack race was started in 1846 the club began the tradition that guests were invited to listen to a speech by the winning owner. This tradition continues to this day, and the speech is frequently an important barometer on the state of British racing.
1773 Despite the 1740 act the first Racing Calendar lists races at Kiplingcotes, Beverley, Scarborough, Richmond, Sheffield, Wakefield, Doncaster, Boroughbridge, Northallerton and Malton as well as at Hambleton and York.
1774 The famous 'Aske Spots' colour of the Dundas/Zetland family (of Aske Hall, near Richmond) are registered for the first time.
1775 The historic Hambleton racecourse closes down, although it is still used to this day as a training centre.


Horses work on Hambleton Gallops, July 2005, click for a larger image

1775 1,200 is raised by public subscription to build the grandstand at Richmond Racecourse, part of which still stands today.
1776 First running at Doncaster of the sweepstakes that became, two years later, the St.Leger - the worlds oldest classic race.
1780 Ruler, trained at Middleham by J.Mangle (and also ridden by him!) wins the St.Leger. Was owned by the Bethell family, who are still involved in Middleham racing to this day.
1783 The first recorded race meeting at Catterick. This was held in what was then the parkland of the magnificent Brough Hall, which is now on the otherside of the A1! Possibly therefore this original meeting was slightly nearer the hall than the current course. A permanent site was not built until 1813.
1783 Phoenomenon, trained at Middleham by Issac Cape wins the St.Leger
1786 Paragon, trained at Middleham by J.Mangle (and also ridden by him!) wins the St.Leger
1787 Spadille, trained at Middleham by J.Mangle (and also ridden by him!) wins the St.Leger
1788 Young Flora, trained at Middleham by J.Mangle (and also ridden by him!) wins the St.Leger
1791 Of the 70 'proper' mothers listed in the earliest stud book, 65 are based in Yorkshire - mainly in the Bedale/Masham area.
1791 A race with the same conditions as The Park Hill Stakes is run for the first time at Doncaster, although it was originally known as the 'The Filly Stakes' and the present name (and a matching increase in prize money) wasn't bestowed upon the race until 1839.
1792 Tartar, trained at Middleham by J.Mangle (and also ridden by him!) wins the St.Leger

Recent ~ 20th Century ~ 19th Century ~ Early History

All information provided on this site is given on a 'best endeavours' basis. No guarantee as to the accuracy of the data is implied nor should it be assumed. For clarification please contact the relevant parties.
If you have any comments, corrections, suggestions, pictures or (most importantly) information please
email me.

Copyright 2002 Stephen George-Powell

If you can't see a toolbar at the top of this page either you have an in-compatible browser of you have accessed
this site via an old link, please use
www.yorkshire-racing.co.uk instead.