Antiqua Print Gallery Croxton Park Races
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Croxton Park Races

Horse racing, the Sport of Kings, certainly played its part in putting Melton Mowbray on the map.
Steeplechasing was a popular hobby. It got its name because people usually raced each other on horeseback to a church steeple or some other landmark, and large sums of cash depended on the outcome.
Jack Brownlow’s book Queen of the Shires tells of one race in the 1820s from Great Dalby windmill to Tilton with 1,500 guineas – £1,575 – going to the winner.

The most famous meeting was probably Croxton Park Races which began in the early 19th century and remained a permanent fixture in the hunting

calendar until the First World War.
Croxton Park Jockey Club held its meetings at the George Hotel, Melton, and its race meetings were the height of fashion.
Long before Ascot became synonymous with hats and fashion, Melton Mowbray was the place to be seen.
By the 1840s races at Burrough-on-the-Hill were regularly attracting crowds of more than 2,000.
In 1846, newspapers reported one of the largest crowds ever as Melton hosted a two-day racing special with the Croxton Park Races followed by what has been referred to as the first Grand National Hunt Steeplechases at Burton Lazars.
Thousands of people arrived in Melton, and records show the hotels, clubs and houses were full to bursting.

Goods traffic was banned

from the railways so more coaches could arrive and drays laden with beer were piling into town as the action hotted up.
A reporter for the Leicester Journal wrote: “I’m afraid to say how many pork pies, the staple commodity of the town, were got ready.
“A stranger would say that lack of grub would be impossible.”

Thousands of people walked or rode carriages to the Burton Lazars racecourse, which had been marked out with flags, and the stewards’

stand was filled with ladies.
Eyewitnesses reported seeing a continuous line of carriages coming over Leesthorpe Hill and along Burton Flats to the event.
Cooksboro’ won the race but the owner of its rival, Game Chicken, objected that the winning jockey was neither a farmer nor a gentleman jockey and won on appeal.
Supporters hoped to make it a permanent racing fixture but despite their best efforts, the Grand National never returned to the borough.

(Source Melton Mowbray Today)