Alexandra Park Racecourse

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Alexandra Park
Location London
Owned by Defunct
Date opened 30 June 1868
Date closed 8 September 1970
Course type Flat
Notable races London Cup

Alexandra Park Racecourse (30 June 1868 - 8 September 1970) was a London horse racing venue. It was colloquially known as the Frying Pan[1][2] on account of its shape.

Layout[edit]

The course could be described as "pear-shaped with a stick attached",[1] hence the nickname the "Frying Pan". There were 2 loops coming off a single straight. Races were run over three distances only: 5 furlongs, 1 mile and 1 mile 5 furlongs.[2] All except the 5 furlong races were run the reverse way round the course, with the start also at the winning post. The round course had tight bends and cambers and the 5 furlong course had well-graded curves about 2 furlongs along.[1] The going was often firm or hard. However, it has been said that one good downpour could render the turf treacherously slippery.[2] There was an ornate Victorian grandstand and cast-iron railings.

Races[edit]

Monday evening meetings were a regular feature of Alexandra Park's programme.[3] Evening racing was initiated in 1955, and the course's popularity grew temporarily.[2] The meetings were often televised by the BBC. The course's most important races were the London Cup (later transferred to Newbury, the Middlesex Plate, the Flying 2-year-old Plate[1] and the five furlong Southgate Stakes.

Critical opinion[edit]

Alexandra Park has been described as "the quirkiest course in Britain... celebrated for its atmosphere but reviled for the treacherous twists and turns."[2] Among its most fervent supporters were racing pundit, John McCririck, who was an expressed fan of the course. "Part of me died when Alexandra Park closed in 1970," he has said. "I’ve never recovered from it."[3] McCririck has asked that his ashes be scattered at the furlong post,[2] and has also spoken of his wish to be able to afford to rebuild the course.[1]

The course was not universally popular however. Spectator viewing, for instance, was markedly restricted. The five-furlong start was obscured by trees, and neither were there uninterrupted views of the round course. Jockeys weren't always complimentary about the track either. Willie Carson is famously quoted as saying that Alexandra Park "wanted bombing".[2]

Victoria Stakes, a pub in the vicinity named after a race at the course

Recent history[edit]

The rails and an outline of the course were still in existence in 1999 when a plan was hatched by a company called FFK Racing to resurrect it. Proposals were made to the British Horseracing Board but nothing ever came to fruition.[2] In 2011, a group called Riding in Haringey planned an equestrian centre.[3]

The centre of the racecourse is now a cricket pitch.[4] Local football team Alexandra Park FC also play at the Racecourse Ground. Meanwhile, the course is also commemorated in local pub names the Starting Gate and Victoria Stakes[2]

Notable races[edit]

  • London Cup
  • Middlesex Plate
  • Flying 2yo Plate
  • Southgate Stakes

References[edit]

  1. ^ a b c d e "Alexandra Park Racecourse". greyhoundderby.com. Retrieved 2 May 2013. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i Melville-James, Anna (10 August 1999). "Frying pan off the back burner". The Independent (London). Retrieved 2 May 2013. 
  3. ^ a b c Ferguson, Kate (9 September 2011). "Racing pundit John McCririck backs bid to bring equestrian centre to Ally Pally". Ham & High (London). Retrieved 2 May 2013. 
  4. ^ Alexandra Palace Conservation & Heritage Management Plan January 2011

External links[edit]