Where, and what, was Hurst Park?
Between 1890 and 1962, Hurst Park was a racecourse on the banks of the River Thames at Molesey Hurst, near West Molesey, in Surrey. Built during the Victorian ‘leisure revolution’, along with nearby Sandown Park, which opened in 1875, and Kempton Park, which opened three years later, Hurst Park was initially a National Hunt venue. However, the layout of the racecourse was soon modified to accommodate Flat racing and staged its first meeting in that sphere just over a year later.
In 1913, Hurst Park survived an arson attack by suffragettes Kitty Marion and Clara Giveen, which gutted the grandstand, and continued to flourish throughout the twentieth century. Indeed, Hurst Park was still a popular venue at the time of its closure but, despite significant opposition, its owners opted for property development, rather than horse racing, on the site.
Perhaps the most famous race run at Hurst Park was the Triumph Hurdle, first staged in 1939. Following World War II, the Triumph Hurdle continued, uninterrupted, between 1950 and 1962, when Hurst Park closed. After a brief hiatus, the race was transferred to Cheltenham in 1965 and became part of the Cheltenham Festival three years later.