When the Leasowe Races began horse racing as a sport was then in its infancy, and must
necessarily have been more or less of a local character on account of the state of the roads
and the difficulty of travel. On February 15th 1672, a notice was published in the London
Gazette by Charles Earl of Derby, with many other gentlemen in Cheshire and Lancashire, :
"of a five mile course for a horse race, near the town of Liverpool" which was described as:
"One of the finest grounds of its length in England" and neither the courses at Toxteth nor
Melling answer this description as well as Leasowe. In August 25th 1683, James the Duke of
Monmouth attended the horse races there and won the plate on his own horse. After winning
his race the Duke offered to race the beaten jockey on foot, the jockey agreed and again the
Duke beat his man. The Duke attended the races with great retinue, and was received with
The fist sweep stakes were established there in 1723, and were for many years called
" The Wallasey Stakes" . On one occasion the Dukes of Devonshire and Bridgewater, Lords of
Derby, Gower, Molyneux and Barrymore, Sir Richard Grosvenor, Mr Watkin Williams Wynne, Mr
egerton, Mr Cholmondeley of Vale Royal, and Mr Buckle Mackworth engaged to subscribe 20
guineas a year, to be run for on the course at Wallasey on the first Thursday in May each year.
These races were continued by the 8th Earl by command as follows: 'It is my good will and
pleasure ye 2 prizes formerly granted (by me) for horse running and shouting, shall continue
as they did, to be run, or shot for, and so to continue during my good will and pleasure. Given
under my hand att Lathom ye 12 of July 1669.' The rules of this early institution are curious
and give an insight into the way it was organised including the cost of the winning plate - 5
pounds - paid to Lord Derby and that the competitors should be bred locally: 'noe horse,
gelding, or mair shall be admitted to run for the said plate, but such as was foaled within the
said island, or in Calfe of Mann.' Furthermore, the weights of competitors was strictly
regulated: 'every horse, mair, or gelding, shall carry horseman's weight, that is to say, ten
stone weight, at fourteen pounds to each stone, besides sadle and bridle.'
The course fell gradually into disuse upon the establishment of a good course on the opposite
side of the River Mersey at Melling, which was afterwards removed to Aintree, where the
Grand National is presently held at.
Evidently, from the names mentioned,
the races and course were well known
and popular, and the first "Derby" is
stated to have been run in this
neighbourhood. James, the 7th Earl of
Derby, pursued his family's interest in
the Turf by instituting races on the Isle
of Man (over which he was 'Lord'),
during the 17th century, on a piece of
land extending rather more than a mile
across the peninsula of Langness. A
record in the Rolls' Office states that he
gave a cup to be run for at these races,
thus establishing the 'Manx Derby,'
another contender for the claim as the
original precursor of The Derby.
- from a Perambulation of the Hundred of Wirral 1909.