Market Rasen Racecourse. Market Rasen Races

Front cover of the updated and reprinted edition of the Market Rasen book Azertyuiop & Ruby Walsh Trained by Paul Nicholls Owned by Mrs J Hales

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At Market Rasen Racecourse

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The Following Brief History is supplied by Jean Lucas author of Market Rasen Races reprinted in 2005

Market Rasen Racecourse

1828 - 1887

The earliest record of horse racing at Market Rasen is a notice in the Boston, Lincoln & Louth Herald newspaper for 18th September 1828.

Horse racing in those days at Market Rasen were organised by local innkeepers, and were a ‘moveable feast’. Their location depended on whichever public house in had a suitable paddock. This racing was over Flat and Hurdles; it  ran continuously from 1828 to 1887.

1853 – 1871 – 1924

Market Rasen is at a point where three fox hunting packs meet and this, together with the enthusiasm of a few talented local officials, was a natural location to stage Steeplechasing (Jump Racing as we know it today). This is the racing which has endured at Market Rasen, until the present day.

Fred Cartwright followed by his son Wilfred: Thomas Nettleship, followed by his son James Henry Nettleship, were instrumental in ensured that horse racing continued at Market Rasen on a variety of ‘borrowed’ sites until a permanent site on Willingham Road was purchased in 1924.

In 1924 the Market Rasen United Hunts Steeplechase Company ran its first meeting on a site bought for the specific purpose of holding race meetings. From 1924 until 1939 three meeting per year were run; they were Easter Monday, a meeting in May and another in September. Market Rasen was very closely allied to the farming community and these race meetings coincided with annual holidays for those in the agricultural industry.

Racing at Market Rasen was suspended for the duration of WWII; the course was ploughed and the paddock and parade ring were covered with Nissan huts, which housed POW’s.

James Henry Nettleship (Shareholder, Secretary and Starter) died in 1939 leaving Victor Lucas, his son-in-law, under the guidance of Wilfred Cartwright (Shareholder and Clerk of the Course), to organise post war racing. Racing resumed at Market Rasen on Easter Monday 1946 when a crowd of over 18,000 people paid to come racing; there were many spectators on that day that had not paid but had gained entry through gaps in hedges and across streams.

In the early days after the war facilities were at best rudimentary and at worst non-existent; building materials were impossible to procure; food & spirits were still rationed. However, a resourceful catering manager (Mr Cecil Hague) managed to obtain supplies from the far flung corners of Britain. The extent of bottled beer consumed meant that it took two dozen Italian POW’s, employed for two days, to pick up all the empty bottles!

The same catering manager hatched a plan, together with Victor Lucas; they decided to hold a sale of farm equipment on the morning of a race day. After WWII the use of petrol for other than essential travel was illegal and many racegoers who had attended the farm sale before crossing the road to watch horse racing in the afternoon were summoned to the Crown Court at Lincoln Castle to explain their conduct! All those charged to appear in Court boarded a bus in Market Rasen Market Place for the journey to Lincoln and after hearing all defendants the Judge pronounced them “Not Guilty”, charges dismissed. Victor Lucas, who had acted as Auctioneer on the day was not charged with any offence but declined to repeat the exercise!

Victor Lucas, set about the mammoth task of gradually bringing the race track up to standard and formulating a ‘grand plan’ for the layout of the buildings in the Paddock. Eventually, over twenty years later, his plan came to full fruition: there were two fine grandstands for spectator viewing; one in Tattersalls and one in the Family Enclosure. The Parade Ring was repositioned in front of the stands, where runners and riders from all enclosures could see horses and jockeys before they went down to the Start.  An administration office, with Weighing Room and Winners enclosure was completed in 1966.  The last war time Nissan hut, which had been employed in a wide variety of uses, was demolished in 2002.


The Brocklesby Suite was finished in 1995 and provides a superb dining area overlooking the pre-parade ring.

The Victor Lucas and Exacta Bar’s in Family and Tattersalls enclosures were finished in 2002 and provide  modern, comfortable surroundings to watch horse racing.

In the past Jump racing was suspended during summer months on account of dry and drying ground conditions. Therefore, when Summer Jumping became a reality, water reservoirs became essential. Many of our more valuable meetings are held throughout the summer months, from July to September. During the summer months Market Rasen hosts Ladies Day including the Summer Plate and the Prelude Meeting in September – both highlights in our calendar. Prize money on offer on each of these days is over £110K

Sunday fixtures (8/21 in 2014) are now a regular feature at Market Rasen, when an effort is made to cater for a Family audience.

Music Nights are now a firm favourite at the course, when a completely different audience visits the racecourse.


Limestone Edward,  Night Nurse Red Rum; Easby Abbey, Azertyuiop, Silver Buck, Bregawn, Burough Hill Lad, Bula, Grittar, Red Marauder, My Will, Asir, The Last Prince and Badsworth Boy are just a few of the illustrious runners to have galloped around the Market Rasen  track.

Market Rasen Racecourse - Our first visit  

We visited Market Rasen on Tuesday 4th February 2014 as Uttoxeter annual members

The night before our trip I looked on Google maps for directions and had to decide between two routes, as we have a satnav built in our car I decided to use it. This proved to be the first mistake of the day, again I was given two choices the shortest or quickest route. Decided to take  the quickest route and was not surprised to be directed to the M1 (as we live in Stoke-on-Trent) what I did not expect was to be travelling up and up the motorway then across country to the HUMBER BRIDGE. Then travel down the A15 unfortunately we had just started to travel down the road when we came to a stop.

A LORRY and a car have been involved in an accident on the A15. The incident happened shortly after 11.30am on the stretch of the road between Redbourne and the junction with the M180.

Humberside Fire and Rescue Service firefighters were also called to the scene and they used a hose reel to clear the road of debris.

The road was fully reopened by around 12.50pm and we were able to get to the racecourse just before the first race 1:30.

It was the first time Caz had visited the course and she was really impressed with the course layout especially the parade ring just in front of the stand and by the race track.

As we arrived at the course the first thing I heard, over the tannoy, was how well it was expected the Venetia Williams runners would do and that San Twiston-Davies had ONLY one ride Benefit Cut in the 3:20 . The first race was won by odds on Carry On Sydney 8/15f (Oliver Sherwood) with Hurricane John (Venetia Williams) 66/1 last. The next two races were won by, yes would you believe it, Venetia Williams representatives Rosa Fleet 7/1 and Panama Petrus 11/4. The 3:20 was won by Benefit Cut 6/4f

We did not have as much time as we wanted to see all the benefits of Market Rasen, so our next visit will include a night in a hotel or b&b.

As I wanted to gain as much information as I could for our website I went to the course office and was greeted by Sarah, who was very polite and helpful. After explaining what I was interested in she asked me for my email address and said she would try to help me in any way she could. Within two days I received an email from Sarah advising she had passed my request on. I later received a brief history of Market Rasen supplied by Jean Lucas.

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