The thrill of the chase

Brighton Racecourse
From a private collection

Brighton Racecourse is not the most popular racetrack, but this to me is one of its attractions.

The lack of huge crowds allows me, as a photographer, to get close to the action, and also to chat with the jockeys and starting stewards. We get the top jockeys when there are no big meetings elsewhere.

The races start in open downland, and you can see the race from beginning to end. The colours, the smells and the sounds of a dozen thoroughbreds galloping past is an excitement which is difficult to surpass.

Comments about this page

  • In the 50s, crowds thronged to the racecourse. There were special buses from the station, where people queued to get on them, which went straight there without stopping. If you were a local, you got on a 42 to the junction of Elm Grove, then walked up the last bit of the hill. Touts would stop you to sell their selections marked off on a racecard of the day—usuallly with a different selection in each one. Once you got past them, there were the stalls for jellied eels etc and small men dressed in riding silks saying they were ex-Queen’s jockeys, with a sure thing – ha! Prince (?) Monolulu was the next one, with his shout of ‘I’ve gotta horse’. Through the tunnel (where you kept your hands in your pockets, because of pickpockets) and on to the race course proper. There were lots of bookies lined up to take your money, you looked for the best price and hoped. Should too many favourites win that day it was not uncommon to see bookies closing up their pitch and scarpering down the hill to get the No 1 bus from the Whitehawk eastate. It was a pleasure to see the great jockeys of the time, like Gordon Richards, Eph & Doug Smith, W.H.Carr, Greville Starkey, Charlie Smirke and Scobie Breasley. Sometimes you saw a chalk jockey go up on the board by the name of Lester Piggott. He was in chalk because he was a reletive new jockey. A smashing day out and, if you didn`t bet, it was free.

    By Bob Wells (17/04/2005)
  • I had the pleasure of a day at Brighton races last autumn and absolutely loved it – its spectacular views, its unusual and demanding course, its quaint parade ring and its atmosphere of a big group of friends having a get together. Will be back!

    By Kristen (10/01/2006)
  • I remember my grandparents taking me to see Lester Piggot win on Foxhunter on the Brighton race track when I was small. Wonder what year that was?

    By Julie Stock (09/04/2006)
  • I lived opposite the race-course in the middle of Hillview Road on the top of the hill at Woodingdean. My cat used to greet the race horses and their trainers at daybreak.  We had unrivalled views of the course and a grandstand view of the track, on race days it was sensational. The semi-detached properties were built, I think, in the late 1920s -1930s (I would be interested to know if anyone has any further information about them). I miss the views and the closeness to nature, the hail, wind, thunder, rain, the snow and the mists in the winter. But it was glorious on a clear day to see the Isle of Wight and all of Brighton twinkling at dusk. It is an experience I will never forget.

    By Jenny (29/05/2007)
  • To Julie Stock. My records show that Foxhunter was born in 1929 and won the Ascot Gold Cup and Doncaster Cup. You would have probably seen him around 1933. Hope this helps.

    By David (04/05/2009)
  • Google failed to throw up anything about him, but I recall feeling sentimental about a one-eyed horse winning at Brighton Racecourse – in fact I’m nearly sure he won more than once. The horse’s name was Belper, and, if I’m right, he ran in the seventies.

    By Joe (30/07/2012)

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