Stratford-On-Avon Racecourse, Luddington Road, Stratford-upon-Avon, CV37 9SE
Tel: 01789 267 949
“The Course upon this most beautiful Meadow (allowed to be one of the finest in the Kingdom) has been altered and made greatly more convenient and agreeable both for Horses and Spectators. Indeed, there was very little Occasion for Art where Nature has been so lavish of her Bounties; the Stream of the Surrounding Avon, the verdant lawns, and the rising Hills and Woods form a Scene too delicious for Description.”
The words used to describe the Jubilee Cup run on Shottery Meadow, Stratford-on-Avon on Friday, September 8, 1769 as the highlight of the third and final day of Garrick’s Great Shakespearean Jubilee.
Two hundred years later, it was on Shottery Meadow that in September 1969 the Garrick Jubilee Challenge Cup, a two-mile hurdle race, was introduced to commemorate the part played by racing in the original Jubilee in 1769.
However, the history of Stratford races is older even that the Garrick Celebrations. The date of the first race meeting is unknown, but thanks to a unique manuscript account made by Captain James Saunders there is a magnificent record of the races from 1755 to 1778.
In 1839 the year of Mr Elmore’s Grand National win with Lottery, that horse won the four mile chase at Stratford, repeating his win the following year.
Certain races established themselves over the years, the Warwickshire Hunt Cup was the most valuable race, and the Shakespeare Cup run over three miles with 60 sovereigns first appeared in April 1867. The Avon Steeple Chase, the Diamond Jubilee Cup in 1897 and the Warwickshire Hunt Coronation Cup was instituted in 1902.
In 1904 the name of the races was changed to the Stratford-on-Avon and Warwickshire Hunt, and so continued until after the war.
Many improvements have taken place on the track, where the bends have been banked, the water jump moved in front of the stands, a photo-finish camera installed, and the distances of the races altered. In 1969 two fields which were part of the original course over 200 years ago, were acquired for the purpose of enlarging the circuit and eliminating two sharp bends.
A great characteristic of Stratford racecourse has always been the friendly way in which it draws its race-goers into participation in the pleasures of racing, and the course enjoys a unique Club spirit – it was the first in the country to form a Racecourse Entertainments Committee.