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Archive for March, 2009

There is an interesting article on BBC News’ ‘Magazine’ pages, which asks the question of whether horse-racing is on the cusp off a renaissance, so to speak, with the opening of the first new racecourse in 80 years.

The article talks in some depth about a number of racecourses across the country that have died a death in the post-war period.. It’s seems representative of the boom of the late 20th century, where housing developments and extensive building schemes have littered our landscapes with what seems like little attention paid to the architectural detail and indeed longevity of such projects.

Where once stood proud sporting arenas where history was made, are now generic, characterless buildings. Another local example of such a project is Scunthorpe United’s old ground in the town centre, the Old Showground. It’s now a Sainsbury’s. Perhaps these such developments will be to the 1980’s and 90’s what tower blocks were to the 1960’s.

Lincoln Racecourse is mentioned, and the selection of images to compliment the article give a great insight into a bygone age. Not only does it show how horse racing seemed to truly capture the imagination of the general public on a scale rarely seen in today’s environment, but it also provides a snapshot of society; the top hats, thefancy attire, the excitement – it seems to represent a very ‘British’ sporting scene.

The article also ties in nicely with the future prospects for Lincoln Racecrouse. Throughout the last year, there have been numerous calls to restore the grandstand and the course to its former glory.

We’ll hopefully discuss the prospects of seeing horse racing on the West Common in the future a litttle later.

Andrew

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Some quick research of the local press brings up some interesting results about the grandstand.

An interesting slideshow of images is provided by the local newspaper, the Lincolnshire Echo, on their website. It serves to provide an insightful visual history of the grandstand’s existence, from a premier horse-racing venue to a near-derelict folly on a local bypass.

Please, take a moment to look at the slideshow here.

Andrew

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The most famous and prestigious race to be held at Lincoln Racecourse was of course the Lincoln Handicap.

As we mentioned in the previous post, the event is now staged at nearby Doncaster, but many years ago it was the jewel in the crown of Lincoln’s flat racing season. It is run over exactly one mile, and is open to thoroughbreds aged four years and over.

Originally, the race was called the Lincoln Spring Handicap, owing to the time it was staged – usually mid-March or April.

It was a conglomeration of the two-mile Lincolnshire Handicap run in August, inaugurated in 1849 and won by Midia ridden by Barker who weighed in at 4st 11lb, and the mile-and-a-half Lincoln Spring Handicap, inaugurated in 1853.

The race changed to the current distance of a mile in 1855 when Sausebox, who went on to win the St Leger, obliged at even money favourite – the shortest price in the history of the race.

In 1859 the race became known as the Lincolnshire Handicap, a name which had been used previously for the 2-mile event contested in August we’ve already mentioned.

From its inception in the mid 19th century, the race became an important fixture in the flat-race calendar. It’s growing prestige ensured it’s place alongside the world-famous Grand National as part of the ‘Spring Double’.

The 1948 race saw a spectacular field of 48 runners – one of the largest amassed for a race in this country. Indeed this was the largest number of horses ever to contest the race in any single year. It’s a figure now unlikely to be beaten, owing to regulations now in place restricting the number of horses in races.

Notable winners include Ob (1906 and 1907) and Babur (1957 and 1958) who both won two years in a row; St Maclou (1902), who beat Sceptre who went on to win four classics that season; and Buchanan (1881) – an almost white horse who emerged ghostlike from a snow storm.

The race became known under the its present title upon the closure of Lincoln Racecourse, when the race was transferred to Doncaster in 1965.

Andrew

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A brief history

11th April 1946: A group of jockeys bunched together in the first furlong of the Lincoln racecourse.

11th April 1946: A group of jockeys bunched together in the first furlong of the Lincoln racecourse.

Here is a brief overview of the grandstand’s history.

The grandstand was initially part of Lincoln Racecourse, which dates back to 1773. Historically, the racecourse held a position at the high table of flat-racing –  their March meeting was the traditional curtain raiser of the flat-racing season. The Lincoln Handicap, as it was called, is now a delight to be enjoyed by the attendees of Doncaster Racecourse, some 40 miles away.

 

However, despite the course’s popularity and indeed reputation as a home of qulaity horse-racing, the course suffered in the 1950’s and 60’s. The course, like all other courses, closed during World War II. Following the enforced closure, the course then struggled to regain its popularity in peacetime and ultimately the Levy Board funding was withdrawn. The last time locals could see horse racing from the stands was in 1964.

 

So the horse-racing has moved on, yet the grandstand building remains. Nowadays it has taken a very different course. Whilst a brief onlooker might imagine the grandstand to be derelict, it in fact houses a community centre catering for the nearby suburb of Carholme.  There has even been recent talk of a return of horse-racing to the area.

 

We will discover much more in the coming days and weeks, but for now, we’ll leave it there.

 

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This is NOT a blog providing a general overview of sport in Lincoln. It does NOT have a catchy theme tune. Des Lynam will NOT be presenting any of the coverage provided here.

What this blog will provide, is an insight into one of Lincoln’s less-championed landmarks – the Grandstand, which is located on the West Common, in Carholme.

Last used to cast an eye over the equine steeds that rampaged along the racecourse in 1964, the grandstand now serves to provide a momentary snapshot  of a bygone age through the windscreens of thousands of commuters on one of Lincoln’s main thoroughfares.

The commuters come and go, yet the grandstand remains, largely dormant – a folly on the horizon.

Through our posts to come, we hope to cast a more enlightening view of Lincoln’s forgotten landmark. This will be through a collaboration between arts and journalism students from the University of Lincoln.

We hope you enjoy our journey.

Andrew, Jamie, Neil and Sam

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