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There has been a racecourse in Wolverhampton since 1825 but not always at its present site. Originally situated at Broad Meadows, which is now West Park, the National Hunt course staged fixtures for over 50 years, along with side shows, shooting galleries and cock fighting.
In 1878 West Park was built on the site and a new location for the racecourse was sought after, this wouldn’t prove too difficult though. By early 1888 arrangements were in place for the building of Wolverhampton Racecourse on its current site on Dunstall Hill, which had been purchased by Robert Hermon Hodge, M.P. for Accrington, and Mr John Lees, J.P. The estate cost £36,000 and was registered to the new company setup by Mr Hodge and Mr Lees, Wolverhampton Racecourse and Dunstall Park Limited.
Chaired by Alexander Staveley Hill, the racecourse staged its first meeting on 13 August 1888.The first race at the new racecourse was the five furlong All-Aged Maiden Plate, won by jockey Tommy Loates aboard Silver Spur. Other races on the day’s card included the Albrighton Welter Plate and the Bushbury Selling Plate. Many famous faces from across the racing world attended the first fixtures at the racecourse, which were a great success.
The Shifnal Selling Handicap was held in October 1913 and this resulted in the first dead heat at the racecourse between Steve Donoghue riding Kinglet and Sidney Seymour aboard Tramp IV. On such an occasion it was customary for the owners to divide the stakes, if the owners did not agree to do so, a deciding heat had to be run. On this occasion a deciding heat was run and Kinglet ended in first place by three quarters of a length.
From summer 1914 racing was cancelled by the outbreak of war, action resumed in 1919 and many memorable events and successful meetings were staged in the 1920s & 30s, before again cancelling meetings from September 1939 to after the second World War.
The race meetings continued to be a great success after the war through the 50s and 60s, and on 14th September, 1964 the Queen had her first success at the course when her horse Menai, ridden by Geoff Lewis won the Bushbury Maiden Plate.
During the 1970s and 1980s the course went from strength to strength, with the racecourse company achieving record profits in 1986. In the late 1980s a £15.7 million scheme was proposed, including the addition of floodlighting, the laying of a Fibresand all-weather surface, and the building of a hotel and exhibition hall. The all-weather circuit was almost completely flat, oval-shaped and about a mile in length. The first event after the completion of the work took place on 27th December, 1993, when 10,000 people attended the meeting. In 1999 the racecourse and hotel were purchased by Arena Leisure PLC.
In 2001, the track was further improved with the laying of 7,600 tons of Fibresand over 140 new lateral drains, and in 2004, the Fibresand and turf track were replaced with a Polytrack surface. Since that time, only flat, all-weather racing has taken place there.
Wolverhampton Racecourse is now the last surviving racecourse in the West Midlands, and is Britain's first floodlit racecourse. It is extremely busy, hosting around 100 meetings a year, including its themed Saturday evening events. There are bars, restaurants, and a busy conference and exhibition centre, and has a licence to perform civil weddings. The course also has its own hotel, the 'Holiday Inn Garden Court' with 54 rooms, bar & restaurant and fitness suite
In 2014 plans were made by owners Arena Racing Company to resurface the track to Tapeta, a surface not yet used in Great Britain. After a three month resurfacing period, the racecourse opened for business again on Monday 11 August with their first meeting on the Tapeta, from which excellent reviews have been made from jockeys, trainers and owners.