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CAERLEON RACECOURSE

The earliest recorded two day race meeting in the area was in August 1845 at Caerleon, with meetings continuing until 1854. The 1845 meeting was not worthy of note because the three races on Wednesday only attracted a total of six horses, while the sport on Thursday was even less attractive.

The Sporting Magazine of 1846 reported on the second year of meetings held at the Newport Racecourse in Monmouthshire when a one day meeting took place on Tuesday 3rd September. The card opened with the Newport Stakes which went to Mr Smith’s Foxwhelp, but the meeting proved to be exceptionally good for Mr F Jacob and his mare Valeria, who showed her flexibility by winning the Pontypool Park Stakes and the Llantarnam Hurdle Stakes. Meetings lapsed for over three decades until the Llangibby and Tredegar Hunt Groups organised National Hunt events in the mid 1880s. However, the earliest races billed as ‘Newport’ were not held until a two day meeting from Wednesday 15th to Thursday 16th November 1899. By then the course was situated on the banks of the River Usk, close to the M4 near to Caerleon and less than a mile from Caerleon Railway Station, the site is now occupied by Caerleon Comprehensive School. Meetings stopped in 1913 prior to the outbreak of World War I and did not begin again until 1919. The course closed again for World War II but reopened in May 1946 and a year later the Queen Mother’s jockey and celebrated racing author, Dick Francis, rode Wrenbury Sahib at Newport on Saturday 14th June 1947, one week before his wedding. It proved to be an awkward ride and fateful decision because the horse fell and Dick broke his collarbone, leaving him with a permanent reminder on his wedding photographs.

With the closure of Ely Racecourse in Cardiff, the Welsh Grand National was held at the Caerleon Racecourse in 1948 and was won by Captain Ryan Price's Bora's Cottage.

The final meeting took place on Monday 17th May 1948. As well as horse racing, the course was also the venue for international cross-country events