Horse racing has been part of Exeter's heritage since the middle of the 17th century, one of many racecourses created due to Charles II's love of the sport, and there have been claims that the racecourse is one of the oldest in the country.
The Jockey Club was formed in 1750 and horse racing under rules was standardised shortly after. There was a records numbers of races ran at Exeter by Louisa Graves in 1819, and further records of meetings can be found from 1804.
A big part of our racecourse history is the last duel in Devon, which took place at the racecourse in 1833, when Peter Hennis, a doctor, and Sir John Jeffcott, a judge, drew pistols over Hennis spreading gossip. Hennis was wounded in the exchange, and died the following week; Jeffcott fled to Sierra Leone.
The racecourse was formerly known as Haldon racecourse by locals due to its location, Devon and Exeter Racecourse until the 1990s and more recently Exeter Racecourse. The course was popular during the early 19th century, attracting entries from owners, trainers and racing stables all over the country. By 1850, the popularity of National Hunt racing had decreased and William White's gazetteer claimed that Exeter Racecourse was "little used". Popularity increased again over the following years, although there was a pause in racing during World War II. Little did William White know that the racecourse would still be thriving today.