Page last updated at 14:28 GMT, Tuesday, 27 July 2010 15:28 UK
Land O'Plums chase and Pershore racecourse
Many famous jockeys of the 1930s raced at Pershore

The story of the Land O'Plums chase, which is being revived after 71 years, revolves around the lost racecourse in Pershore, Worcestershire.

From Victorian times up until the outbreak of WW2, Pershore staged race meetings, using two different venues.

Lord Coventry, whose family home was at the nearby Croome Court, was a steward at Pershore racecourse.

The racecourse became an army training camp in 1939, which spelt the end of the Land O'Plums chase.

After the war the Nissan huts of the army base were used as housing for local people, waiting for the Abbey Estate in Pershore to be build.

The racecourse was never re-opened, and the Land O'Plums chase was confined to history, until its revival in 2010 at Worcester racecourse.

Pershore races

Pershore had a racecourse in the 1870s, on ecclesiastical land on Weir Meadows.

The first recorded running of the Land O'Plums chase was in 1899.

At the time many of the horses racing at the Pershore meetings were ridden to the town several days beforehand, and stabled at local hotels.

The stable blocks belonging to the Victoria Hotel, in Newlands, are still visible to this day.

The meadows where races were staged were very susceptible to flooding, and in 1935 a new racecourse was opened, further from the River Avon, and closer to the town's railway station.

Famous jockeys

The meetings at the new racecourse in Pershore were popular enough to attract some of the best jockeys of the 1930s.

Seven times champion jockey Gerry Wilson rode at the new course - this Cheltenham-based jockey won six titles on the trot in the 1930s, and one more during WW2.

In 1937, a teenage American jockey called Bruce Hobbs burst onto the British scene, with three winners at Pershore.

The next year, only three weeks after his 17th birthday, he went on to become the youngest winner of the Grand National, riding the 40/1 shot Battleship.

The town lost its racecourse forever, after the army set up a training camp there during WW2, and an industrial estate now stands on the site.

The street name Racecourse Road is now the only clue that this sporting venue ever existed.

Rugby and racing

Roy Hirons, a local expert on the history of the racing at Pershore, has organised an exhibition of memorabilia for the restaging of the Land O'Plums chase, at Worcester racecourse on Friday, 6 August 2010.

He owns two of the original enamelled members badges for Pershore racecourse, which are now much prized by collectors.

He was an enthusiastic rugby player in his youth, and he recalls that the founding of Pershore Rugby Club in 1962 had an unusual link to the old racecourse.

The club originally played on the same Weir Meadows where races were staged, and one of the original jumps was still visible on the land.

BBC Hereford & Worcester are grateful to Roy Hirons for much of the information contained in the article.


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