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Queens Links -
Site of the Aberdeen Race Course

Race Meetings
Shown on old maps the Race Course was a kidney shaped loop and its extent ran from the Chemical Works in Footdee to the edge of the Broad Hill on the north/south axis and and from the Gas Works to the Bathing Station and Old Battery on the east /west axis.  Little is recorded as to the number of meetings which may have been held but considering the very exposed nature of the course they would have been better held in the Summer Time for greater success. 

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.

Map of Aberdeen 1862

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. 

1794 Meeting -
Aberdeen Town Purse

1. Magdalena owned by Mr Baird
2. Rattler owned by Mr Swann

The Northern Shooting Club Purse
1. Magdalena owned by Mr Baird - walked over

The Northern Shooting Club £40 Purse
1. Courier owned by Mr Craike
2. Kate owned by Mr Sawyer
3. Sally owned by Mr Cotterell

The Northern Shooting Club £40 Stakes
1. Courier owned by the Duke of Grafton
2. Scourge owned by Mr Garden
3. Sally owned by Mr Cotterell

1824 Meeting: Aberdeen Stakes over 2 miles
1. Niel Gow owned by Mr Farquharson
2. Negotiator owned by Lord Kennedy

Aberdeen Ladies Plate over 2 miles
1. The Tod owned by Mr Hawkins
2. Richmond owned by Mr Fraser

Caledonian Welter Stakes over 2 miles
1. Meela owned by Mr Farquharson - walked over

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
The Cesarewitch was inaugurated in 1839 and has been running continually ever since. It is named for Tsesarevich Alexander, who became later known as Tsar Alexander II, who made a generous donation of £300 to the Jockey Club - quite a gesture in the early 1800s. The Cesarewitch forms the well-known Autumn Double in alliance with the Cambridgeshire Handicap, which was founded the same year. With almost 200 years of history behind the Cesarewitch it is no surprise that the race has seen its fair share of horse racing legends. Superstar jockey Lester Piggott rode several winners in the Cesarewitch, including John Cherry in 1976 and Popsi's Joy in 1980. However, the most successful Cesarewitch jockey of all time is currently Doug Smith, who rode six winners at the event between 1939 and 1966, including French Design and Persian Lancer.  The Cesarewitch makes for an especially thrilling event because it usually sports a huge field of runners. The maximum number of starters allowed on the track in an impressive 34 - making the Cesarewitch one of the highlights during The Newmarket Meetings

Golf on the Links
The Queen’s Links, was the subject of the world’s earliest recorded description of a golf hole in 1625 and many believe the game itself actually originated here.

The Royal Aberdeen Golf Club was formed by the name The Society of Golfers at Aberdeen in 1780. The membership of the society used to be determined by ballot. It was renamed in 1815. It is the 6th oldest golf club in the world.

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.

The 2 early clubs played over the Queens Links in Aberdeen, but the in 1888, due to consecration on the Links, the Aberdeen Golf Club moved to Balgownie Links where one of the country's most natural links courses was established. From the earliest days, club officials encouraged the top golfers of the time to come to play in Aberdeen, including Tom Morris, Walter Hagen, Tony Lema, Tom Watson, and Greg Norman, to name but a few.

The members played on Aberdeen's Queen's Links and over the Broad Hill until 1888, when they moved to a new links at Balgownie 2 miles north of the City. The Balgownie course was designed by Archie and Robert Simpson and later remodelled by James Braid. The club's "Royal" designation was awarded by Edward VII in 1903. There is a 2nd course called the Silverburn Course.

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Last modified: 01/09/2013