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Australian Jockey Club, Randwick, New South Wales

Phar Lap memorabilia

Image: Phar Lap memorabilia

Source: Museum Victoria

Australia's first organised race meeting was held in Sydney's Hyde Park in October 1810. On 28 January 1833 the Sydney Herald reported that the Governor had sanctioned the reserve of an eligible piece of ground on the Botany Road for a racecourse. The ground included the site of today's Randwick Racecourse.

A Committee was formed to oversee the work of laying out the new course, working under the direction of the Surveyor-General, Major Thomas Mitchell. The first race recorded at Randwick was held on the new course in June, 1833. It was a private match between two horses. There was regular racing at the course until 1838 when the deteriorated track was dedicated to training purposes only.

In May 1840 the Australian Racing Committee was formed to establish a formalized racing authority. By January 1842 this Committee had resolved itself into the Australian Jockey Club. The Homebush Course was the headquarters of racing in NSW until 1860.

In 1859 a new AJC Committee confirmed the revised Rules of Racing for New South Wales and published a new weight scale.

On 29 May 1860 racing resumed at Randwick, with a grandstand seating 700 and a total crowd of 6,000 in attendance. The AJC Derby was first run at Randwick in 1861. Two years later the Randwick land was granted by the Crown to trustees representing the Australian Jockey Club for an annual rental of 'one black peppercorn payable on demand', a rental which has never been collected. In 1873 the Australian Jockey Club Act confirmed its tenure of Randwick Racecourse.

In 1900 the AJC Register with Rules and Regulations of NSW racing was first issued. The Club moved its administration offices to Bligh Street.

In 1922 the Australian Jockey Club purchased the Warwick Farm course and began improvements. The first meeting under AJC auspices was held on 27 January 1925 with 25,000 in attendance.

In 1948 an Act of Parliament confirmed the power of the AJC to hear appeals and requiring the committee to hear these in public.

In 1961 the Australian Jockey Club (Amendment) Act altered the AJC lease of Randwick racecourse from a 21-year to a 99-year term. The following year the AJC moved to its present administration offices at Randwick.

The Queen Elizabeth II stand was used for the first time on 4 August 1969. The stand cost $4.6 million.

In May of 1977 the computerised totalisator was introduced to Randwick. As a result of the faster operation and payout and greater information available with the computer tote, turnover rose sharply from $26.8 million in season 1976-77 to $45.9 million in 1977-78.

The 90s were a turbulent time for the racing industry in NSW. On 18 October 1995 The Temby Report recommended the formation of a new administrative structure for the industry. In 1997 the New South Wales Thoroughbred Racing Board was empowered to run racing in NSW, leaving the Australian Jockey Club with the sole responsibility of running a race club.

References:
Australian Jockey Club website http://www.ajc.org.au/welcome.htm?y&generalmenu.htm&tracksid.htm.

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