England’s oldest horse race – Kiplingcotes Derby

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Sandwiched in the calendar between Cheltenham Festival and Grand National is England’s oldest horse race, the Kiplingcotes Derby.

Sandwiched in the calendar between Cheltenham Festival and Grand National is England’s oldest horse race, the Kiplingcotes Derby.

We say “in the calendar”, but the amateur affair doesn’t exactly draw the same calibre of entrants and attention as the aforementioned illustrious meets.

The first ever Kiplingcotes Derby took place over a four-mile-long countryside course in 1519. At that time King Henry VIII was on the throne.

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The village of Market Weighton in Yorkshire has continued to host it every year since. This incredible sustained run is owed in no small part to one local farmer, who, during the particularly harsh winter of 1947, took it upon himself to lead a horse around the frozen course.

Now one of the quirkiest sporting events in Britain, it traditionally takes place on the third Thursday in March, starting at an old stone post on the grass verge in the parish of Etton, not far from the old Kiplingcotes railway station near Market Weighton, before covering a distance of four miles over farm lanes and tracks, and finishing at Londesborough Wold Farm.

The unpredictable weather and the nature of the course ensure the race remains a formidable challenge for runners and riders.

One major quirk of the ancient rules of the race (drawn up in 1618) means that the second placed rider usually receives more prize money than the winner. The sum of all entry fees (£4.25), which are awarded to second place, usually outweighs the first prize of around £50.

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Written by insider city guide series Hg2 | A Hedonist’s guide to…

(Featured image: Visithullandeastyorkshire.com)

England’s oldest horse race – Kiplingcotes Derby was last modified: June 26th, 2019 by Brett Ackroyd
Author: Brett Ackroyd (631 posts)

Brett hopes to one day reach the shores of far-flung Tristan da Cunha, the most remote of all the inhabited archipelagos on Earth…as to what he’ll do when he gets there, he hasn’t a clue. Over the last 10 years, London, New York, Cape Town and Pondicherry have all proudly been referred to as home. Now it’s Copenhagen’s turn, where he lends his travel expertise to momondo.com.