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Copyright Notice

Early Sydney Horse Racing

The officers of the 73rd Regiment, together with many of the “better class” of people in Governor Macquarie's reign, were evidently keen on racing, for they announced in the "Gazette" that the Sydney races were to take place in October 1810 for three fifty-guinea plates.

A track was prepared on what is now known as Hyde Park. The stand was placed close by the junction of Market and Elizabeth Streets, the straight being along the latter thoroughfare from Park Street. The attendance was the largest ever collected in the colony.

The winners were:
Subscribers' Plate of fifty guineas - Chase
Ladies' Cup, fifty guineas - Chase
Magistrate's Purse, fifty guineas - Scratch

The second Sydney race meeting occupied August I 2th, 14th and 16th, 1811, on the Hyde Park track.

On the first day the Subscription Plate of fifty guineas was won by Mr. Bent's ch. g. Matchem, while Captain Ritchie's Cheviot won the Two-year-old Sweepstakes.

Here we have the interesting fact of thoroughbreds being produced, yet not a word as to their sires or dams.

On the second day the Ladies' Cup of fifty guineas was won by Colonel O'Connel's Carlo and the presentation to the winner was made by Mrs. Macquarie. A pony race was won by Mrs. James Cox's Fidget.

On the third day the Magistrate's Plate was won by Mr. William's Strawberry.

Just a year elapsed before the third meeting took place. It extended over four days, August 17, 19, 21 and 22. On the opening day Colonel O'Connel's black horse Carlo won the Subscription Purse of fifty guineas, and Mr. Williams's Strawberry took the Ladies' Cup on the second day.

Mr. Birch's Cheviot won the Subscription Purse of fifty guineas on the third day. The sporting people also subscribed fifty guineas for a three mile race, in which Mr. Kearns' b.m. Creeping Jenny outdistanced her two opponents.

On the fourth day a sweepstake of fifteen guineas for gentlemen riders was won by Mr. R. Campbell's Tallboy, and a match for twenty guineas between Captain Cameron's Miss Portly and Captain Crane's Erin was won by the former.

The fourth race meeting was held on August 16, 18 and 19 (1813), when Little Pickles won a 50-guinea Plate; Carlo won the Ladies' Cup and Plate; Purse, Mulberry.

It was not until May 31, I 819, that a race meeting was held, when a programme of three events was run off. A Silver Cup (two-mile heats) was won by Mr. Emmett's Rob Roy, beating Commissary and five others. A Silver Bowl for three-year-olds went to Mr. Cribb's Sly Boots, who beat Haphazard and three others.

The third race was for a saddle and bridle, which were easily appropriated by Mr. R. Campbell's Speedy.

In 1820 there was a race meeting which extended over two days. It was a poor affair. A Subscription Cup (three-mile heats) was run, in which Mr. Frank's Rob Roy beat Mr. Fisher's Pickles. On the second day Mr. Walker's Haphazard won a Subscription Purse, and Mr. Campbell's Speedy won a prize of £20, while Mulberry collected a Silver Bowl, Cover and Saddle.

There was a three-days' meeting on August 14, 15 and 16, 1821 , when the winning horses were Rob Roy, Captain Dandy, Deceit, Bray and Lead Beater. The event which created most interest was the Subscription Purse of 50 guineas, presented by the ladies of the colony for three-year-olds carrying
7 stone, two-mile heats. It was won by Mr. Walker's blk. f. Miss Nettleton, after three heats, of which Mr. Cooker's Random won the first.

The year 1822, and the two following years, are entirely bare of sporting news, and not until 1825 did turf affairs improve. During the month of March a new turf club was formed, with the Governor, Sir Thomas Brisbane, as patron.

A race club was also instituted at Parramatta, and an impromptu meeting held on a new course four miles outside Sydney, on March 17. At first it was resolved to limit the members of the new turf club to sixty, but this was considered too exclusive.

Sir John Jamieson was elected president, and the first race meeting was held at Hyde Park on April 25 and 26, 1825. At this meeting the afterwards celebrated Junius made a victorious appearance by securing first place in the Town Plates of 50 sovereigns (heats). He was owned by Mr. Nash, and for some time after was termed the champion horse of the colony.

At this meeting he also secured the Magistrate's Plate, and at the second meeting of the Sydney Turf Club, held on September 23, 24 and 25, Junius won two events. At this meeting there a Handicap Stakes of five guineas each, with ten guineas added, won by Mr. Nichol's Captain, 7st. 21b.

This is the first mention of a handicap run on the Australian turf.

There was also a six furlong race for two-year-olds, won by Australian.