Hyde Park racecourse

2008
CC BY-SA 2.0
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Hyde Park Racecourse

[media]The first official horse race in Sydney was run in Hyde Park in mid-October 1810, just two weeks after the park was formally created by Governor Macquarie. The track had been established by the officers of the 73rd Regiment, with the idea of improving the breed of horse available to the military.

[media]The first 'meet' was a three day event, with prizes including a silver cup valued at 50 guineas and a purse of 50 guineas for the two principals in the race. A grandstand was erected near the winning post, at the top of what is now Market Street, with the course running in a clockwise direction towards Macquarie Street, along College, around Liverpool and returning along Elizabeth Street to the post. The clockwise direction was chosen to accommodate the topography of the site, but was then maintained as a standard on New South Wales racecourses. [1]

The Hyde Park course was in regular use until 1814 when the regiment was transferred from the colony, after which races were run intermittently without official endorsement until 1819. In 1819 the Hyde Park track was reopened, with races being held here until 1821, when the newly-arrived Governor, Thomas Brisbane, placed a ban on official racing, in an attempt to wind back what were perceived as the excesses of the Macquarie era. Despite the ban, there was at least one more race on the Hyde Park track in 1825, after which it was discontinued. [2]

 

Notes

[1] N Penton, A Racing Heart: the Story of the Australian Turf, Collins, Sydney, 1987, p 12

[2] M Painter and R Waterhouse, The Principal Club: the Story of the Australian Jockey Club, Allen and Unwin, Sydney, 1992, p 10

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