N is for Newmarket

Racing at Newmarket, 29 August 1750

It’s believed that the earliest recorded horse race took place on Newmarket Heath on 29 August 1750.  The Earl of March and the Earl of Eglinton bet 1,000 guineas against Theobald Taaf that four horses could pull a four wheeled chaise carrying one person 19 miles in under an hour. The route started at the 6 mile house, went through the running gap and then took the horses four times round a ring of three miles before ending at the 5 mile house.  The final time was 53 minutes and 27 seconds.

“A Representation of the Carriage which was drawn by four Horses at Newmarket on Wednesday, August 29, 1750 – Nineteen Miles within an Hour”, nd (1511/184/10)

This engraving is from the Print and Brass rubbings collection (ref 1511) held at the Bury St Edmunds branch.  It records the names and details of the horses:

  • Tawney, brown
  • Roderick Random, dark grey
  • Chance, chestnut
  • Peeper, grey

The engraving also describes the clothes worn by the postillion in the carriage and the 3 boys and groom riding the 4 horses.  Sadly it doesn’t reveal the names of the riders, apart from Will Ehrett, who was a groom to Mr Panton.

If you’re interested in horse racing, the National Horseracing Museum is based at Palace House in Newmarket.