Did Newmarket once have a National Hunt course?
The simple answer is yes, it did. In the latter years of the nineteenth century, on what is now the Links National Hunt Training Grounds, Colonel Harry McCalmont, who owned the Cheveley Park Estate, laid out a steeplechase course. The first meeting at the course took place on November 29, 1894 and the last on December 28, 1905, three years after the death of McCalmont. Principal races during that period included the Newmarket Grand Military Cup, the Cheveley Cup and the National Hunt Chase Challenge Cup, which would later become a fixture of the National Hunt Meeting at Cheltenham.
Although not in Newmarket itself, National Hunt meetings were staged in the nearby village of Moulton from February 20, 1863 onwards. After a lengthy hiatus, National Hunt racing was revived, albeit briefly, on land owned by Captain James Machell, five miles from Newmarket, in 1879. The two-day meeting, staged on March 20 and March 21, featured the Lanwades Hunters’ Chase and the Trainers’ and Jockey Club Cup, both run over three miles. Thereafter, National Hunt lapsed again until returning, on a more permanent basis, in Newmarket 15 years later.
Machell, though, would find further fame as an owner and trainer of Grand National winners. He owned and trained the 1873 and 1874 winners, Disturbance and Reugny, and owned the 1876 winner, Regal.