The Doric Columns
Queens Links -
There is evidence that racing took place on the beaches around Aberdeen as early as 1661, although it is likely that these were spasmodic and that the main, prolonged period of racing so far north started in 1793. Both the Aberdeen Journal and the Aberdeen Gazette make reference to horse racing taking place on the Links at Aberdeen in 1766 and 1787. The meeting, known as the Aberdeen, Forfar, Kincardine and Banff meeting was 1st run at the Aberdeen course in 1793. One of Britain's then most Northerly Race Courses; the races were 1st run under the Patronage of Lord Kennedy, the 3rd Duke of Grafton, Northern Shooting Club, Honourable Captain Gordon, Marquis of Huntly (sic Huntley). They were revived and run annually until 1828. This subscribers token, granting admission to the stand, was issued in 1817 for the races at Aberdeen, Forfar, Kincardine and Banff meeting.
Augustus Henry Fitzroy -
The 3rd Duke Founder member of the Jockey Club enthusiastically embraced racing from an early age, and his horses were reasonably successful in matches and races throughout the latter half of the 18th century. While at that time racing was intended to amuse the nobility, anyone could watch the races, and gambling losses among both the rich and the poor became so widespread that statutes were enacted to limit the amount of money an owner could bet on his own horse, in an attempt to limit deception and chicanery amongst owners, jockeys and professional gamblers. These laws were largely honoured in the breach. The Grafton Dukes, however, were always noted for their sportsmanship; Nimrod referred to the 3rd Duke as one of "...the few great winners amongst great men."
"At a meeting of the Northern Shooting Club, held at Aberdeen, the 22d of December, 1796, Present Dr George Skene of Berryhill; Major-General Hay of Rannes; Sir Archibald Grant of Monymusk; J. D. Horn Elphinston of Horn [14 other names] - Dr Skene in the chair - The Meeting being informed that great quantities of hares, partridges, and other game had been killed during the present season, especially in the vicinity of Aberdeen, and being resolved to exert themselves for the preservation of the game, which the present severity of the season requires them more particularly to attend to - resolved to recall, and they do hereby recall all shooting licences granted by any of them preceding this date; and in order to the more effectual detection of poachers and others infringing the Game Laws, the Northern Shooting Club hereby offer a reward of 3 Guineas, over and above the statutory penalties, to be paid to any person or persons informing against poachers or others destroying or killing game without leave, and particularly during the present inclemency of the season; to be paid by Dr Dauney, Advocate in Aberdeen, upon conviction of the offenders. George SKENE, Chairman."
Racing took place on the 1st October 1793 opening with a plate for hunters to the value of £50. Records show that a full 5 day meeting took place in 1794 which began on 30th September. The meeting lasted until 1799 but was revived in 1815. In 1823 the Royal Caledonian Hunt Club held their meeting at Aberdeen starting on 30th August. Although the club had a choice of 8 different courses in Scotland, they only chose Aberdeen once. The main race was the Caledonian St Leger Stakes which was won by Stratherne.
The Northern Shooting Club, voted a piece of plate, of 50 guineas value, and the Magistrates also gave a purse of 30 guineas; but they were soon discontinued. After an interval of 20 years, however, an Association of the Gentry of the Counties of Aberdeen, Forfar, Kincardine,and Banff, was formed for their revival; and an excellent course was made on the Links of Aberdeen, where races took place annually in October, until 1828, and continued for 4 days, under the superintendence of a President and Stewards, chosen from the Association. At one of the meetings, 4 silver cups, value 50 Guineas each; a purse of 60 Guineas, by subscription of the ladies; an open plate of 50 Guineas, by the Corporation of the City; a Silver Cup, value 100 guineas, by the Members of Parliament for the counties; and an open plate of 50 Guineas, by the Members for the Boroughs, were run for, and spiritedly contested.
The Northern Shooting Club Purse
The Northern Shooting Club £40 Purse
The Northern Shooting Club £40 Stakes
Aberdeen Stakes over 2 miles
Aberdeen Ladies Plate over 2 miles
Caledonian Welter Stakes over 2 miles
It is acknowledged that today's trainers take their horses long distances if they feel they have a chance to triumph. Imagine the distances that they would have had to travel to get to Aberdeen, and then ask yourself how they would have got themselves and their horses to the course, and where would they have stayed? In days of old the trainers had a saying, "I'd take horses to Aberdeen if there was any racing there and I thought I could win races'. Unfortunately there are no more races at Aberdeen since 30th August 1876 other than experimental meets at Seaton Park in 1923 and 1928.
The Deciding Heat of the Cesarewitch Stakes 1857
Golf on the Links
was formed by the name The at Aberdeen in 1780
A Golf Club was originally established in the vicinity, by a society of gentlemen, in 1780, and, after its dissolution in the course of a few years, was revived in 1815, under the appellation of the Aberdeen Golf Club; it is under the direction of a Committee, consisting of a Captain, Secretary, and 4 Councillors, chosen annually at the General Meeting. The members are admitted by ballot, on payment of One Guinea, and an annual subscription of 5 Shillings.
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