Racecourse History


Thirsk has a rich racing heritage and history.

The Thirsk area's long association with horse racing can be traced as far back as 1612, when James I provided the prize of a Gold Cup for racing held at the nearby Hambleton Hills. Racing at Hambleton ended in 1775, but the location remains a vibrant training centre for thoroughbreds to this day.

Thirsk’s first race meeting on the present course was held in 1855 thanks to a local landowner, Squire Frederick Bell, who decided to organise the event on his Thirsk Hall estate. The legendary champion jockey, Fred Archer, raced at Thirsk in 1884, winning twice, and by 1895 the Royal Pavilion had been built and Thirsk was playing host to Edward, the Prince of Wales. The expansion of the railways and Thirsk’s growing reputation also began to attract racegoers from further afield, as well as southern-trained horses, to take part in events such as an attention-grabbing 300 Guineas Stakes introduced in 1879. 

These days Thirsk stages some 17 flat fixtures per year, between April and September, including 6 Saturday afternoon meetings and 3 evening meetings.  It attracts high class runners and jockeys from all the major training centres, many of which go on to achieve great things on the international stage. 

Much investment has and continues to be made in Thirsk Racecourse and its reputation as a prestigious venue for horse racing, as well as a superb venue for numerous events including weddings, conferences and banquets, continues to be enhanced as Thirsk combines its unique history and heritage with the modern services and facilities demanded by today’s discerning visitors.