Cooks River Nineteenth Century Sporting Life

The recent digitisation of newspapers by the National Library of Australia, has created a greater awareness of life in the Cook’s River area in the 19th century.

The term ‘Cook’s River’ has a certain flexibility regarding geographic location but textual clues indicate where an event took place.

Sporting activity within the City of Sydney preceeded any within this area. A cursory glance at the Sydney Gazette points to cock fighting, horse racing, (substantially all age races with small fields) and trotting being the main city sporting amusements. A digital search of “sport” also reveals plying the indigenous population with alcohol and watching them fight amongst themselves. Something which that newspaper strongly disapproved of.

Horse Racing

In August 1832 –

A steeple race was run on Saturday last between the following horses:- Mr. R.Bourke’s Grey Stallion; Mr. E. D. Thompson’s (sic) Tam O’Shanter; Capt. Hunter’s Tomboy; Captain William’s Thief-Catcher; Mr. Miller’s Moll; Mr. Finch’s Bogtrotter; and Major Bouverie’s Ugly. …… The ground selected was between Broken Bridge (the starting point) on the old Botany road, taking a circuit of Cudgee Bay (where the line was marked), and up to the signal post at the back of Waverley crescent; a distance of about five miles. …..The horses performed their duty well, and the riders were complimented on their jockeyship. A few carriages with ladies were assembled to witness the scene, but it was little known to the public, who otherwise would have attended in great numbers. This is the first steeple chase run in the Colony.

The start appears to have been on the Botany Road, near a bridge crossing the chain of mill ponds to Coogee Beach and finishing at Waverley House, overlooking Bronte Beach. Unlike our present day courses it was not a circuit.

In September1832 –

Sporting Intelligence. STEEPLE CHASE. – An excellent Steeple Chase came off on Saturday last to Cook’s River, between a numerous party of gentlemen, and was won in good style by Mr. E.D. Thomson’s Tam O’Shanter.

Several pulling matches amongst amateur rowers are on the tapis.

Edward Deas Thomson, was at that time clerk to the Executive and Legislative Councils of N.S.W. In the following year he married Governor Bourke’s second daughter and subsequently was for twenty years a much admired Colonial Secretary. As for the race being a steeple chase, there were no ‘steeples’ in the area until 1839 when St. Peter’s Church, Cook’s River, was completed. Perhaps the more correct definition of these horse races is “point to point,”- an amateur steeplechase for horses, especially. hunters over a set cross-country course, but who are we to correct a work one hundred and seventy eight years on.

Alexander Brodie Spark of Tempe House watched hurdle racing, in September 1836 he wrote ;

20th Went to the hurdle Race which came off near the Race Course on the Botany Road. Although there was no great amusement in seeing a company of riders in pied liveries kicking down the rails over which they ought to have leapt, yet as the day was fine and the company numerous, the scene was animating and the exercise pleasant.

The course for 1836 appears to be the same as that for 1832, between Botany and Coogee Bay.

The Australian reported –

On Tuesday last, the Annual Sydney Hunt Hurdle Race came off …. before an immense assemblage of every description of man and beast, who arrived from Sydney about half-past two in the afternoon. There were likewise many of Eve’s fairest daughters, both in vehicles and on horseback, enlivening the course by their presence, and giving additional ardour, if that were neccessary, to those who were the lions of the day. At twenty minutes before three the first man was weighed in, and soon after, all the horses and riders….. walked off towards the starting post, which was to the left-hand of the Botany Bay road, under the hill on the other side the New Race Course, from whence the line took a sweep towards Botany and returning in the direction of Sydney terminated at the distance post of the Sydney Race Course.

Very much a gentleman amateur affair, Captain Hunter’s colt Whisker was ridden by Major England. The other horses were all geldings. The following rode their own horses, Captain Williams, Longwaist, Mr. Gisborne, Fergus, Dr. Moncrief, Joe. Mr. Barker, Charcoal, Mr. Hardy, Betsy. Mr. Barker’s, Steeltrap was ridden by Mr. Stein, Mr. Jenkin’s Mazeppa by Dr. Kenny and Mr. Manning’s Whitefoot by Mr. Lugard.

The Australian reported –

THE START.- Are you ready? Away! and away they went all at a jump, Fergus going to the front, where he remained half-way up to the first fence when he was passed by Joe, who made strong running for the first mile, leading over the three first fences followed by Fergus, Steeltrap, and Mazeppa: Whisker refuses the second fence and was thrown out of the running for a time; Mazeppa refused the fourth and Joe the fifth, whereby they were floored for the race; Fergus accordingly led over the fourth fence, closely followed by Steeltrap, but when they got to the other side their riders did not know what to do with them, as for a short time they lost their way, which however was very politely pointed out to them by Major England and Mr. Barker leading them over the fifth fence. Fergus again went to the front making strong running up to tthe sixth fence, which he cleared, closely followed by Whisker and Steeltrap. the race was now between the three leading horses- Steeltrap cleared the next fence beautifully, leading the other two lying on his quarter; at this point Major England shook his horse’s head, and on crossing the ring of the New Race course sent the Vincents in, taking the lead, and keeping it over the two last fences, and ultimately winning cleverly by three lengths; Fergus next, beating Steeltrap after a deadly struggle by half a length; next, longo sed proximus intervallo came Botany, beating charcoal in a hard race. the rest were not placed by the Judge. The whole distance was done in eight minutes twenty-two seconds……

REMARKS. – The course was admirably chosen, but not sufficiently marked; had it been so, the result of the race would have been different. Whisker never could have caught the leading horses if they had not missed their way.

The phrase “sent the Vincents in,” is a reference to those who have successfully backed the winning horse, and is to be found in Grose’s Slang dictionary of 1811.

A year later on March 10th Alexander Brodie Spark wrote;

Drove Mrs. Duguid to the Hurdle Race and back, a distance of about ten miles in sand.

Perhaps Spark suffered from a sense of de ja vu, in that it was almost a repeat of last years result. In only a four horse race, Major England on Whisker, repeated his win, from Steeltrap, and Fergus and Traveller finishing third and fourth.

The Sydney Gazette comment was –

The sport was entirely confined to gentlemen, and consequently not one dispute occured.

Jack Tally-Ho describing the races in the Australian, concluded by saying –

I must bid you farewell, and now, Mr.Tompkins, the hunting season is at hand. I hope, however, to see you in your best smalls, the first meeting at the cover side, in the Punch Bowl country.

A day later the press reported –


On Saturday, the match between Captain Hunter’s Whisker and Captain Ebhart’s Bentinck came off over the last Hurdle Race Course- three miles, nine leaps over four feet hurdles. Bentinck led to the first fence, which he shyed, Whisker hopping quietly over, and cantering at a lady-like pace to the second, over which he was followed by Bentinck; two more fences were shyed by the latter, and the Major passed the winning post just before his opponent had got over the last fence. Bentinck is a fine horse, but scarcely fit to live in the same world with Whisker. He would make a first-rate hunter

The Cook’s River connection is Captain Ebhart who lived with his wife and a milking cow, called Sally, at Juhan Munna, on the south west bank of the Cook’s River, adjacent to Illawarra Road. ‘It was a commodious stone-built dwelling house, with a parlour, bedroom, kitchen and cellar, each eighteen by fourteen feet, three other rooms fourteen by twelve feet; and a store-room, men’s huts, and stable. On one hundred acres of land, it included a garden of fruit trees, comprising apple, pear, orange, lemon, and a vineyard of an acre and a half’.

Captain Ebhart had other sporting interests. In April 1837, we read –

Sydney Subscription Races.To be held on Wednesday 3rd May and Friday 5th of May, with three races on each day. Two year olds to carry 6st. 7.lbs, three year olds 7 st. 6lbs, four year olds 8st. 4 lbs., and five year olds 8st. 12lbs. The Stewards were, Captain Ebhart, Nicol Allan Esq. and Richard Roberts, Esq.

The races were not geographical in the Cooks River area. What class of racing did Captain Ebhart preside over? With the weight for age scales it would appear to eliminate the amateur rider of the officer class.

Traveller and Whisker, previously found hurdling, are now found on the flat, with the former participating in three races and the later in two. Required to respectively carry 8st. 12lbs and 8st. 4lbs., it would appear that Mr. Roberts and Major England found professional jockeys.

A field of two horses seems to have been the norm, with a heat system, deciding the winner. Here is the close of one race –

The floggers were now brought into play in real earnest, and the exercise of a little whipcord enabled the rider of Traveller again to take the lead, which he kept till opposite the judge’s stand, winning a very severe race by about three lengths. The result of the second heat was the same as the first, with the exception, that traveller won it without being touched, and with more to spare.

At the same race meeting Mr. Charles Smith’s Clifton was victorious in the second race, with his Moggy coming second in the third. Charles Smith has a tenuous link with St. Peter’s Anglican Church Cook’s River in that he, his wife, and one of his sons are buried in the graveyard. His early life is a mystery, apart from being convicted at Leicester Quarter Sessions in 1818 to 14 years transportation. By 1828 he had a butcher’s shop in George Street, Sydney, and by 1830 a ‘fine substantial and genteel looking house, near the corner of Market and George-streets, and had commenced another which he intends to be a first rate corner shop. This will add materially to the improvement of that central and desirable part of the town’. By 1831 his horse Boshee had taken out the Town Plate, worth £50 from Sir John Jamison’s Benelong, and Mr. White’s Flying Pieman. One newspaper article in 1833, lists men of substance, who are not deemed elligible to sit on a jury. Listed is Charles Smith, who it is claimed is worth £10,000. His wife, Ann, however still served in the George Street shop, and in the same year took a meat cleaver to the head of one of her customers with whom she had an altercation. Charles was equally handy with the whip, having seen off three bushrangers who accosted him on the Parramatta Road. By 1837, he is importing thoroughbred horses from England. Subsequently having stud farms at Bungarabee, Doonside and Clifton at Windsor. On his death in 1845, the Sydney Morning Herald reported –

The late Mr. Charles Smith.- The remains of this useful and enterprising colonist were conveyed yesterday morning to their last resting-place, in the pretty Church-yard of Newtown. A large concourse had assembled to pay the last tribute of respect to the deceased; there were upwards of two hundred carriages and gigs, and about twenty horsemen. Besides these there was a large number of pedestrians of the humbler classes, amongst whom were several aborigines, all appearing to feel that they were about to witness the last rites performed over the body of one who had been a kind and benevolent friend to them in their necessities.

The Australian added –

We cannot refrain from bestowing a tribute of respect to the memory of one who was known to be a good father, a kind and affectionate husband, an upright citizen, and a generous benefactor to all whom he considered entitled to, or in any way deserving of the exercise of his benevolence. To Mr. Smith the colony is indebted for many acts of public spirit which have contributed to advance the general interests of the community. He has done much towards improving the breed of horses, and was first who, in conjunction Mr. Charles Roberts, engaged in the enterprise of exporting those animals to India.

The Australian’s description of the funeral read –

Yesterday the ordinary business of the city was suspended until after the interment of the late, much lamented and respected, Mr. Charles Smith, butcher, of George street. The procession of carriages and horsemen reached over a mile and a half of ground-the hearse having reached Cooper’s Distillery, at Blackwattle Swamp, long before the last coach had moved from the residence of the deceased, in George -street.Windows, balconies, walls, the pavement or footpaths, as far as the round-house, were densely crowded with respectable individuals of all ages, sexes, and conditions, to get a glimpse of the mournful pageant. In fact, so powerful a manifestation of the public acknowledgement of public worth has not been evinced in New South Wales. … We observed Her Majesty’s Attorney general and several other government officers;some of the Members of the Legislative Council. The hearse, drawn by four horses, and occompanied with the usual paraphanalia, was preceeded by Drs. Bland and Bennott in their gigs, the Rev. Dr. Steele, heading the procession.

Steele was at that time the minister at St. Peter’s Church.

As for Captain Ebhart 1839, returning from Copang, Java, aboard the Essington, he died from disentry. A plaque in St. Peter’s Church, Cook’s River, is dedicated to him. It reads:

‘Late Captain in H.M. 45th Regiment of Foot, and subsequently a resident in this colony. Died 9.5.1839, aged 39 years, on board the “Essington,” on his return from a voyage to the Indian Isles. His mortal remains are committed to the deep, but his spirit, it is humbly trusted, has returned to the God who gave it’.

In spite of the efforts of butcher Charles Smith to improve the bloodlines of Australian thoroughbred horses racing in 1847 still remained somewhat third rate.


For the Petersham Grand Steeple Chase of Thirty Sovereigns, with a Sweepstakes of three sovereigns each added, for all horses; over nine leaps, four leaps high; three miles to be selected by the Stewards; entrance, Two Sovereigns; three entrances or no race. Weights – three years old, 9 st.; four years old, 10 st.; five years old, 10 st. 7 lb.; six and age, 11 st. winners of any previous Hurdle Race to carry 7 lbs. extra.

Mr. King’s rn. g. Wallaby (Gorrick) …… dead heat 1

Mr. Fawcett’s b. g. Kourie Gum (Weazel) … dead heat 1

Mr. Hewer’s na. b.g. British Yoeman (Lupton) …. dis. 0

The day was remarkably fine, though disposed about noon to be sultry; still, the absence of dust operated as a set-off, much prized by those who frequently feel the mortification of having their holiday toggery eclipsed by coatings of pulverised mud. Spicy drags,‘tis true, were few and far between, and the company, upon the whole, lacked that aristocratic dash which Petersham has heretofor drawn forth. The grandstand was tolerably thronged by both sexes, and from this elevation alone could an uninterrupted view of the whole affair be witnessed.

Within a few minutes of the appointed time the Clerk of the Course gave the word, and in a canter away they went. At the distance post, nearing the first fence the pace had slackened into a trot, almost immediately succeeded by walk, and all but a dead halt. At length Gorrick put his horse at the rails and landed well; the Gum followed suit, but the unfortunate youth on Yoeman went bungling up to the rails: his horse baulked, and sending the jockey over, showed no desire to follow; Lupton again, after some delay, remounted, but, his second effort, proving similarly unsatisfactory, he resigned any further effort. The two leading horses were now rattling away together, making a circuit to the right, off the course, in the direction of the Cherry Gardens, took the second fence without a baulk, the roan still leading. The line of country still led them in a circle to the right, skirting the Cook’s River Road, where the third made fence was in the same order top’d; at the fourth. Billy the Weazel got a fearful hurl, which jerked him several yards ahead, and as the Gum recovered leisurely, one of his fore feet came in violent contact with his jockey’s ribs, while from the other foot a severe blow on the face followed. The Weazel reeled to earth, bleeding profusely, and presently, staggering to his legs, succeeded in reaching his nag, who strange to say after the mischief done, remained quite still. Gorrick, by this time, had arrived at the first brook, in the hollow opposite Taverner’s Hill, over which a pair of rails led; some little hesitation occurred, but he succeeded in persuading him over, and as the Weazel, still in evident pain, and with a purple stream flowing from both nose and mouth, was approaching at the Devil’s own pace, no time was to be lost. Gorrick’s horse again more than once refused at the second brook, but a timely application of the side arms brought him to a sense of duty; the Gum, not very far behind, also got to the desirable side of the streamlet. Having made the circuit they had now to repass the second and first fences, and thus again get on the Race Course, all of which was in due time effected, Wallaby dashing upwards. past the Judge’s stand about 100 yards in advance of his opponent, and with but one remaining fence to face. An easy victory seemed certain; indeed, the only chance in favor of the Gum lay in the possibility of a baulk at this said leap. The rider of the nag, nothing daunted by the disaster above related, and fatigued with load of dead weight (3 st.), and loss of blood, kept Kowrie to his work, rushed after the leading horse down the slope, and as luck would have it, at the very moment when delay was so dangerous, Wallaby refused the fence; the Gum came up: Gorrick turned manfully to his work, and they cleared the rails abreast of each other. The latest excitement prevailed on the stand, and generally over the course; a desparate race up the hill followed, ending in a splendid struggle from the distance to the chair, and moreover a dead heat. Much dissatisfaction arose as to this decision of the Judge, Mr. Fawcett, with several other parties of respectability, being of opinion that the Gum had the race, resolved neither to divide the stakes nor to run again, avowing his intention entirely to withdraw from the local Turf.

The location of the Petersham race course is not clear. The course obviously ran close to Parramatta Road and included Taverner’s Hill. “The Cook’s River Road” refered to is what is now Old Canterbury Road, which leads to Canterbury on the Cook’s River. It should not be confused with the Cook’s River Road leading to the dam at Tempe.

Horse racing may well be the sport of kings, but as promoted by James Richards, mine host of the Newtown Inn, on Boxing Day in 1847, it appears to have been not so much about racehorses of the thoroughbred variety, but rather races for horses. Richards, son of a convict woman, three times bankrupt, and some time coach owner and driver from the City of Sydney to Cook’s River, offered an entertainment the like of which we are not likely to see in this century. His hotel on the Cook’s River Road (now King Street) at Newtown was the venue, but just where and how long the race course was is uncertain. Note the qualification for three of the races being, “horses of all ages that work in harness,” effectively disqualifying all but carthorses or coach horses.



J.RICHARDS begs to inform his sporting friends and the public in general, that on MONDAY, the 27th (being Boxing Day) he intends to give a treat to all lovers of sport, according to ancient custom.


A Grand Match of Skittles to be played by the Champions of Newtown and Cook’s River.

Three Races for three Pigskin and Saddles, to be run for by horses of all ages that work in harness. Entrance, ten shillings each.

A Match of Quoits.

A Hurdle Race for men, three stiff leaps for a horse. Entrance fee, known on the ground.

Bobbing in a Tub of Water for oranges.

Two prime Garryowen Grunters will be turned out with Greasy Tails; the party who catches by the tail to keep them.

Climbing the Greasy Pole for a Hat.

With a variety of other amusements too numerous to mention.

N.B. – J.R. begs likewise to inform the public, he has engaged a first rate Band for the occasion, and no extra charge made for Refreshments.

P.S. – Fire-Works and a Dance on the green in the evening.

The same James Richards, now at the White-Horse-Inn Newtown offered a similar entertainment, but slightly more cultured programme on New Year’s Day 1848. The “White Horse Hotel,” was situated near the corner of the present White Horse Street and King Street, Newtown. Just where this “Waterloo Racecourse” was is unclear. Laterly a Mr. Cooper had a “Waterloo Racecourse,” which became known as Victoria Park, but its founding date doesn’t correspond with this event. Were all the events on the racecourse with Mr. Richards having a booth on the course, or were some held at the Hotel, are questions still unanswered.

1848/12/30 Sport. Horse Racing, Running, Shakespeare Readings, Cock Fighting, Pub Games & Amusements

New Year’s Day Festivities.



BEGS to inform his Sporting friends and the public that by permission of Mr. Cooper the


will be thrown open on Monday, the first of January, 1849, for –

A Race for all horses having worked in harness, for a Hog-skin saddle, Post entrance, 15s. each.

Four entrances or no race.

After which will be played

Second – A Game of Quoits by eight players, for a Saddle, Particulars at the time.

Third – A Foot Race, for 30s. aside, by two well known pedestrians, with various amusements too numerous for an advertisement.

The evening’s amusements to conclude by Mr. Jones, from Hobart Town, giving some of his beautiful specimens of Elocution, from Shakespeare, and a variety of Comic and Sentimental Singing.

Also, a main of Cocks to be fought for a new Hog-skin Saddle.

N B – Mr. Richards will have three of his Omnibusses plying regularly from the White Horse Tavern, George-street, from Eleven in the morning, until Eleven at night

God save the Queen !

Mr. T.Sparkes had a similar idea, in 1850, for the Easter holiday. It is likely that this is Thomas Sparkes, Sparks or Parks, the celebrated pugilist who was known as the “Sprig of Myrtle.” The Parks family founded Parks Camp, now the present day Earlwood, and were principally responsible for clearing substantial areas of forest in that area. Once again, apart from a reference that “The Rising Sun,” was near Ashfield, its exact position is not at all clear. The hotel was throughout the 19th century a place where inquests were held in the Canterbury area.


MR. T. SPARKES begs to inform his friends and the public in general, that several Horse Races and other Sports will come off at the Rising Sun, Canterbury, on Monday the 1st of April, – being the first in the town. The first race will be between Mr. Dempsey’s Lady Mary, and a first-rater from Cook’s River, for Ten Pounds a-side; and several other Matches; after which, a Sweepstakes will be run for all Cart Horses; to conclude with a Bag Race, and several proposed Foot Races.

A First-Rate Spread will be prepared.

The New Year’s Day race meeting at Canterbury in 1851 may have had a little more class than previously, however there were problems. What is now the Old Canterbury Road to the course was less than satisfactory and the hope for improvement may have been the New Canterbury Road. The races were for cart horses and “hacks” the dictionary definition of which is, “a horse kept for common hire, or adapted for general work, especially ordinary riding.” Hence we still have today, “hackney-carriage”, any carriage or vehicle that plies for hire. Mr. Sparks the owner of “Sprig of Myrtle” is of course Thomas the pugilist and mine host at the “Rising Sun,” whilst Mr. Chard is John Chard, who in 1853 disputed Cornelius Prout’s right to collect toll fees on a bridge that Cornelius, with some government funding, had built across the Cook’s River at Canterbury.


These Races came off on New Year’s Day, on the Race-course, Cook’s River, near Canterbury, to the great satisfaction of a numerous and respectable assemblage – Riders and visitors all agreeing that a more eligible spot for a course is not within twenty miles of Sydney. It is true, a little more labour is required in a few places, which will render the course all that could be desired. At present there is – which is much to be regretted – a drawback to this course; that is the badness of the present line of road: but we are assured that there is a splendid route through Canterbury and Petersham to the Newtown Road. This once open. our Sydney friends will have a great treat at a short distance from home – not more than four miles; and doubtless the proprietors of the estate aluded to will see that, whilst they contribute to the pleasures of the lovers of sport, their property will be enhanced ten-fold in value.

First Race – For an excellent bridle and saddle; entrance five shillings.

Mr. Templeton’s Don Juan (yellow) 1 1

Mr. Davis’ Gannymede (red) 2 2

Mr. Thompson’s Goshawk (green) 3 3

Second Race – Bona fide Cart Horses; for an excellent set of cart harness.

Mr. Sparks’ Sprig of Myrtle (blue) 11

Mr. Watson’s Jim (red) 2 3

Mr. Chard’s Sweeper (green) 32

This was a first-rate race, the horses well together all round and excited the admiration of all present, who hardly believe that horses, taken from the shaft, could make such a fine struggle.

Third Race – Hack horses; two horses started

Mr. Thompson’s Goshawk 1

Mr. Davis’ Gannymede 2

Fourth Race – Beaten cart horses, for the Entrance Fund.

Mr. Watson’s Jim 1

Mr. Chard’s Sweeper 2

After the foregoing Races, several by matches were made, and added much to the pleasures of the day, all present vieing with each other in their congratulations to the spirited proprietor of the course.

A challenge went out in April of 1854 from Martin Gibbons, a brickmaker, subsequently sewer line and railway contactor and publican, to Henry Nobbs a bootmaker. Both gentlemen, if that is the word, lived in Newtown. Gibbons in 1861 participated in a very rowdy meeting concerning the Newtown Road Trust, the proceedings of which were described as “utterly unfit for publication.” The brother of Henry Nobbs, was Joseph, who held the licence for the Pulteney Hotel Cooks River, now the site of the Stella Inn, on the Princes Highway at Tempe. Henry died of consumption in 1858, leaving a wife and child.


MR. MARTIN GIBBONS is open to run his bay pony, Brickmaker, against Mr. H. Nobbs’ brown pony, any distance Mr. N. likes, for £25, £50, or any amount upwards, a-side, within one month from this date. The money of Mr. G. is always ready at Mr. Cook’s, the Hero of Waterloo, Cook’s River Road, where all preliminaries can be arranged.

April 8th 1854.

Just what the result was and where the challenge took place, if it did eventuate, are a mystery. Perhaps both men entered in the first race at the Pulteney Hotel, organised by Henry’s elder brother Joseph Nobbs, who a week later published the following


Opening of the New Race Course at Tempe, Cook’s River.

JOSEPH NOBBS, of the Pulteney Hotel, begs to call the attention of the Sporting Gentlemen, and those who like to enjoy amusements and the Holiday time of Easter, to the various sports which will take place on the New Race Course, at the Pulteney Hotel on,



First Prize – a first-rate Hogskin Saddle of the best quality and make. To be run for by ponies.

Second Prize – A New and Complete Set of Cart Harness; to be contended for by Cart Horses.

Third Prize – A New Hogskin Saddle to be run for by Hack Horses.

Several private matches will come off on the same day.


Two boat races will also be determined, namely, a pulling match between two skiffs for £5 aside, and

A Sailing Match for £10 aside. Both starts to take place from the Cook’s River Dam, close by.


at eleven o’clock, a.m ., precisely.

To suit the convenience of Sydney parties, Omnibusses will start at half-past 10, a.m., from the White Horse, George-street, Sydney, and ply to and fro from Cook’s River to Sydney during the day.

N.B. An excellent spread will be provided at the Pulteney Hotel. Together with Wines, Spirits, Ale, &c., &c., of the first quality.

Whilst racing seems to have centred on the Pultney Hotel, and may well have been on the land now occupied by Stanley Street, Tempe, the boat race at the Cook’s River Dam, (now the site on the Princes Highway of the bridge over the river), may have attracted patronage to “The Real Ould Sportsman’s” Union Hotel, run by the Irishman, Michael Gannon, on what is now the bus depot at Tempe. The reporter on the day waxed lyrical on the entertainments offered and none more so than the pigeon shooting at Gannon’s.

‘Pulteney Hotel’ when Joseph Cook was the proprietor


“Soe Eastyre came wythe alle hys pleasantte face,

Aunde everye onne acknowledgedde hys grace.”


(Improved by Sir Walter Raleigh)

“Think of this when you’re smoking tobacco.”

Tom Pipes, the Bo’son.

1st London Apprentice – Wend’st thou the hope thy way to sports of Easter-tide?

2nd London Apprentice – I’ faith thou hast not shot thy arrow wide;

I’m off to Hackney Fields to join the games

Of ———–

1st London Apprentice – Clubs and staves?

2nd London Apprentice – Here’s master! – name no names.

Old Plays.

Having quoted thus liberally from very ancient authorities, we are now about to prove that despite all innovations and alterations the glorious customs of our ancestors are kept up at the present time, and in no place where the Anglo-Saxon language is spoken, and the British laws revered more, than in this Colony. The programme of Easter Monday was comprehensive and inviting – at every point of the compass was there something remarkably tempting. Beaumont spread a highly colored, but truthful, picture of Botany,
(at the Joseph Banks Hotel) Pic-Nics were offered marine conveyances to Watson’s Bay and various beautiful nooks in Sydney Harbour; the Race Course Cricket Ground, Hyde Park, put forth its magnet of attraction in the exciting match between the Australian Marylebone Clubs, and Cook’s River with its horse racing, boat racing and pigeon shooting was not a whit behind in the extensivenesss of its saccharine matter. In fact everything was

Sunny and gay as flowers in May,

Tenderly nurtured by April showers,

Diamond drops that fall from the skies,

Shed, gently shed, by angel eyes

To clothe Earth’s desert with blooming bowers.

“Psha!”exclaims some prosaic sportsman – “cut all such nonsense and get to your regular business.” We heed the advice and will commence with the Pigeon Shooting at the “Raal Ould Sportsman’s,” Cook’s River. A match had been made between fourteen gentlemen of the trigger…

After a lengthy and detailed report, which we shall leave for another time we find that:

The evening was wound up by perfect “Union” at the hostelry of the Raal Ould Sportsman.

As for horse racing, the verdict came in the last paragraph.

Nobb’s New Race Course kept up its well known reputation; and to mine Host of the “Pulteney” no one said, “Go to Bath.” The racing was of good cock-tailed character, perhaps, something better than we have seen at aristocratic meetings; more we will not say, for fear of putting the saddle on the wrong horse.

In May of 1854, a new equestrian entertainment graced Cook’s River Road (The present Princes Highway).

TROTTING. – A match came off last Monday afternoon, on the Cook’s River Road, between Mr. Barnes’ Brickmakers’ Doll and Mr. Barden’s Butcher Boy, the latter betting £10 to £8. And the latter he proved, in spite of the odds, the mare having it all her own way on account of the horse breaking twice, and having to be turned. As far as foot goes, he seemed to have the best of it, for he merely overhauled the Doll each time. The distance was about 2 1/2 miles, and the time 11 1/2 minutes – being anything but “first chop.” Mr. Robert Gannon’s horse the Bus-ter, is to trot the winning mare for £20 to £15. [We wish that any parties making these pleasant little sporting trials would give or send us timely word of their conditions and whereabouts, so that we might be there to see. We are always anxious to be present in body as well as in spirit: but it may be inconvenient when we only hear of a bit of sport at the last moment. – Eds.B.L.S.]

Just who Mr. Barnes was is not clear, apart from being most likely a brickmaker.The Bardens we know were butchers and Robert Gannon was the proprietor and driver of an omnibus, hence the punning title of his horse.

Knowing that in 1848, Robert Gannon had been brought to trial for assaulting another omnibus driver with his whip, it’s surprising he gave the ride to one of his relatives, when his Bus-ter was in June matched with Brickmaker’s Doll.

It is hard to imagine such activity on the present Princes Highway. We can see what Cook’s River Road (Princes Highway) looked like at the time, by viewing a watercolour of the village of St. Peters during the time when the Rev. Bull was the minister of St. Peter’s Church. It appears to be nothing more than a muddy track.

TROTTING. – The match between Buster, and the Brickmaker’s Doll, on the Cook’s River road, came off last Tuesday Morning. Buster had it all his own way and was excellently ridden by Mr. W. Gannon. The mare broke soon after starting, and never came near the gelding after she was turned. Her backers, however, as the Yankeees say, ‘stick to her like a thousand bricks’, and have matched her once more for Tuesday next the same distance.

The advertised racing in 1854 at Cook’s River for Boxing day, and the day following and New Year’s Day of 1855, had ways of keeping any horse of any quality out of the reckoning. Limiting entry to, ponies, cart horses, horses that have not won over £10, and in one instance proving themselves cart horses by hauling a ton, saw to that.


The following is the programme of Races to come off on Nobbs’ Race Course, Cook’s River, on Boxing Day:-


First Race. – For a NEW SADDLE, to be run for by ponies not exceeding 14 hands: entrance money 10s each; three entrances or no race; each pony carrying 7st and 7lbs; mile and a half heats.

Second Race – For a NEW SADDLE, to be run for by ponies under 15 hands high; entrance money 10s, each pony carrying 8st 7lbs: 3 entrances or no race; mile and a half heats.

Third Race-For a NEW SET OF CART HARNESS, to be run for by cart horses: entrance £1 each; to carry 10st; five entrances or no race;mile heats.

Fourth Race – A PURSE of Five Sovereigns, to be run for by common hack horses: entrance money 10s. each; each to carry 10st; mile and a half.

N.B. – No horse or pony allowed to start that has won an advertised prize of £10.

All entrances for the above races to be effected on or before the 23rd December 1954, at Mr. Nobbs’ Pultney Hotel Cook’s River or at Mr. Brennan’s, Union Inn Cook’s River.

The winner of the third race to draw a ton from the dam round the course, if required by the owner of any horse in the race.


First Race. – For a NEW SADDLE, to be run for by ponies under 14 hands, carrying 7st: entrance 10s. each: for entrances or no race: one mile heats.

Second Race. – A NEW SADDLE, to be run for by all winning horses or ponies: two mile heats; entrances £1 each; horses to carry 10st; ponies 8 st.

Third Race – for a NEW SADDLE, to be run for by all second horses or ponies in the above races on the first day; 10s. entrance; mile and a half each: horses 10st., ponies 8st.

Fourth Race – A PURSE of 5 soverigns, to be run for by all beaten horses or ponies; entrance 10s.; mile and a half heats.

past 10 a.m., on Boxing Day.

The horses will start for the first race at shap 11 a.m.


New Year’s Day Races,


First Race – A hurdle race for a NEW SADDLE, to be run for by common hack horses; entrance money 10s. each: carrying 9 st.: four entrances or no race.

Second Race – A hurdle race for a NEW SADDLE, to be run for by ponies not exceeding 14 1/2 hands; to carry 8 1/2st; entrance 10s. eachfour entrances or no race.

Third Race – A hurdle race for the LADIES’ PURSE of 5 sovereigns: to be run for by hack horses, carrying 10 1/2st; entrance money £1 each: four entrances or no race.

N.B. – Entrances for the above races to be effected on or before the 30th of December, at the Pultney Hotel, Cook’s River or at Mr. Brennan’s Union Inn, Cook’s River.

No horse or pony allowed to start that has won an advertised prize of £10 in hurdle races.

There were a variety of entertainments to choose from on Boxing Day of that year, apart from the races at Cook’s River.

A BOXING DAY SPORTS. – To enable our readers to pick and choose from amongst the variety of entertainments proferred them on the forthcoming Gala Day, we furnish them with a catalogue – Grand Fete at the Botany Zoological Gardens – Grand Steeple Chase, Pigeon Shooting, and other Sports at the Star and Garter Hotel, Barwan Park. – Woolloomooloo Bay Regatta. – Races at Parramatta, Windsor, South Creek, Liverpool Road, Cook’s River, and Newtown. Theatres, the Royal Victoria and Lyceum.

Close at hand, on the Cook’s River Road (Princes Highway) on New Year’s Day, there was more racing. From the ‘Star and Garter Hotel’ you could view the races, which suggests the Barwan Park Race Course was somewhere on Cook’s River Road near Campbell St, behind what are now the very short Victoria, Albert and Bishop Streets. Neither houses, nor the present day McDonald’s, would have interrupted the view.

New Year Sports!



Star and Garter Hotel,




heats, once round; post entry.

A FLAT RACE, for a SILVER WATCH; once round; heats; post entry.





And “lots more Fun”!

To commence at 2 p.m.

N.B. – Mr. Bown distinctly notifies that no guns will be allowed on the ground after the commencement of the sports.

Thomas John Bown, the hotelier, who lived at Barwan Park, had a plumbing, gas fitting and brass fitting business and was also Superintendent of the Sydney Fire Brigade.Trials were done on fire engines at Barwan Park, we assume because of a plentiful supply of water. The fun to be had at the ‘Star and Garter’ was no better or worse than that presented by other licencees anxious for custom, but in July of 1855, Barwan Park Racing became a class act, in comparison with all else in our area.

Metropolitan Races.


ON Tuesday, the 3rd, and Wednesday, the 4th of July,1855.


First Race – The MAIDEN PLATE of thirty sovereigns, for all maiden horses, with a sweepstakes of two sovereigns each added; weight for age; once round and a distance; entrance two sovereigns.

Second Race – The ALL – AGED STAKES of thirty sovereigns, with a sweepstake of two sovereigns each added; the second horse to receive six sovereigns out of the stakes; heats, one mile and a half; entrance £1 10s.

Third Race – The SELLING STAKES of twenty-five sovereigns, with a sweepstakes of two sovereigns each added, for all horses that have never won an advertised above twenty-five sovereigns at the time of entrance; weight for age; twice round; the winner to be sold for thirty sovereigns, and any surplus to go to the race fund; entrance £1 10s.


First Race – A HURDLE RACE, for twenty-five sovereigns, with a sweepstake of three sovereigns each added, for all horses; the second horse to receive five sovereigns out of the stakes; three times round the course, over nine leaps 3ft 6 in high: Homebush welter weight: entrance £1 10s.

Second Race – The COOK’S RIVER PURSE of fifteen sovereigns, for all hacks, carrying 10 stone; to be approved of by the stewards; one event, twice round; entrance £1 10s. Post entrance.

Third Race – The BARWAN PARK CUP, value thirty sovereigns, with a sweepstakes of three sovereigns each added, for all horses, to be handicapped by the stewards, or whom they m ay appoint; the second horse to receive ten sovereigns out of the stakes; one event, twice round; entrance two sovereigns. Weights to be declared at 12 o’.clock on the day of the first day’s race, from the Judge’s stand; those horses not accepted to have their sweepstakes returned.

Fourth Race – The BEATEN STAKES of ten sovereigns, for all beaten horses during the meeting; to be handicapped by the Stewards, or whom they may appoint; once round; entrance, one sovereign; post entrance.

Entrances to be made at Mr. J. Beal’s, Currency Lass, Corner of Pitt and Hunter-streets, between the hours of 7 and 9 the night previous to the first day’s racing.

Homebush Rules strictly adhered to unless otherwise specified.

All Jockeys to appear in racing costume. The decision of the Stewards to be final.

Three entrances or no race.

All dogs found on the course will be destroyed.

Qualification – two sovereigns, except for the Cook’s River Purse, for which one sovereign will qualify.

The Steward, Mr. James Oatley, is of interest, being the second son of the convict watchmaker of the same name, who not only gave his name to the suburb of Oatley, but also created the clock on Hyde Park Barracks. James the younger is variously described in the baptismal records of St. Peters, Cooks River as coach maker, publican, licensed victualer and proprietor.He was a widower when he remarried in 1870, and is by then a gentleman, having been Mayor of Sydney in 1862.

Metropolitan Races.


ON Tuesday, the 3rd, and Wednesday, the 4th of July 1855.


Mr. James Oatley, Mr. William Bull.


Mr. George Smith.


Mr. Charles Beale.


Mr. Bown.



To start at Twelve o’clock.

The MAIDEN PLATE of thirty sovereigns, for all maiden horses, with a sweepstakes of two sovereigns each added; weight for age; once round and a distance; entrance two sovereigns.


To start at One o’clock.

The ALL – AGED STAKES of thirty sovereigns, with a sweepstake of two sovereigns each added; the second horse to receive six sovereigns out of the stakes; heats, one mile and a half; entrance £1 10s.


To start at half-past Two o’clock.

The SELLING STAKES of twenty-five sovereigns, with a sweepstakes of two sovereigns each added, for all horses that have never won an advertised above twenty-five sovereigns at the time of entrance; weight for age; twice round; the winner to be sold for thirty sovereigns, and any surplus to go to the race fund; entrance £1 10s.

The remainder of the day will be reserved for matches.



To start at Twelve o’clock.

A HURDLE RACE, for twenty-five sovereigns, with a sweepstake of three sovereigns each added, for all horses; the second horse to receive five sovereigns out of the stakes; three times round the course, over nine leaps 3ft 6 in high: Homebush welter weight: entrance £1 10s.


To start at One o’clock.

The COOK’S RIVER PURSE of fifteen sovereigns, for all hacks, carrying 10 stone; to be approved of by the stewards; one event, twice round; entrance £1 10s. Post entrance.


To start at Two o’clock.

The BARWAN PARK CUP, value thirty sovereigns, with a sweepstakes of three sovereigns each added, for all horses, to be handicapped by the stewards, or whom they m ay appoint; the second horse to receive ten sovereigns out of the stakes; one event, twice round; entrance two sovereigns. Weights to be declared at 12 o’.clock on the day of the first day’s race, from the Judge’s stand; those horses not accepted to have their sweepstakes returned.


To start at Three o’clock.

The BEATEN STAKES of ten sovereigns, for all beaten horses during the meeting; to be handicapped by the Stewards, or whom they may appoint;

once round; entrance, one sovereign; post entrance.

Entrances to be made at Mr. J. Beal’s, Currency Lass, Corner of Pitt and Hunter-streets, between the hours of 7 and 9 the night previous to the first day’s racing.

Homebush Rules strictly adhered to unless otherwise specified.

All Jockeys to appear in racing costume. The decision of the Stewards to be final.

Three entrances or no race.

All dogs found on the course will be destroyed.

Qualification – two sovereigns, except for the Cook’s River Purse, for which one sovereign will qualify.





The first of the pleasant trysts, proposed to be periodically carried on by the recently formed Barwan Park Club, came off on Tuesday and Wednesday last, and may be pronounced successful in its results. It must be borne in mind that the objects of this Club are to promote races so near to Sydney as will neither entail serious expenses nor loss of time on those who take pleasure in witnessing this most noble of sports; and that it is by no means intended to interfere with those events on a larger scale which have hitherto had the mead of Homebush for their arena. For the same reasons as the Hippodrome was established in the vicinity of London, has this Barwan Park Course been selected; and we have only to sincerely hope that the petty considerations which caused the downfall of that well designed plan, will not mar the prospect of the present promising undertaking. The promotors of it have had much to contend with, both in the nature of the course and the season of the year; but they have boldly taken “the bull by the horns” and made the best of the difficult task. On making a determination to carry out any particular object, there is nothing like going to work at once at it; and as, with this view the officials have speedily managed to make so good a start, we have little doubt of their eventual well-doing. It is very certain that, had they waited a couple of months longer, the course would have been infinitely better; but then, again, such a date would have interferred with other pre-arranged meetings in different parts of the country, and the entries must have been consequently meagre. Both the public and horse-owners have shown themselves exceedingly willing to afford their support at the first attempt, and it may now be confidently expected that their future patronage will be increased, if mutual accommodation be sought. All parties well knew that the ground was in unfavorable condition; but they willingly ran all chances, and show no disposition to grumble now that the affair is over. In three months time, when the warm weather has dried the boggy land together, and the artificial work has settled, there will be a very pretty and firm ring, and we hope to see many a well contested race run within this twenty minutes’ distance of George-street. Some improvements can certainly be made, but of these have been already pointed out by turf cognosenti; and from the willingness expressed to meet the just views of racing men, we fully believe such alterations will be duly acted upon.

There seems to have been a special Providence over race gatherings this season, for never has there been one unpleasant day at the numerous races we have had the pleasure of attending; nor was the “clerk of the weather” a wit less propitious in his favors on the present than on previous occasions. The “convincing ground” being close to the city, there was not a great variety of vehicles impressed into the transport service as usual on Homebush days,

but the ‘busses had good times of it, and lumbered along with such a superabundance of live-freight as almost alarmed us for the safety of their springs and axles. However we heard of no more serious accidents than that of kicking in a window or two by sundry overhanging heels, or the having to walk the last half-mile owing to paying too long and deep devotion to friend Blackstone’s enticing nobblers. The muster on the course was very considerable by noon, and comprised several of our leading sportsmen; nor could many persons help expressing their surprise and pleasure that such should go early and so liberally take the Neophyte Club by the hand, and that the “Card of the Races” promised such ample amusement.

Mr. J. Beale of the “Currency Lass,” and Mr. Race, of New Town, had each a good booze in front of the “Star and Garter Hotel;” and the Grand Stand was presided over by Mr. Brenan of Cook’s River. From either side of the Hotel a full view of the course could be obtained, as it stands upon the hill; and the majority of the visitors elected this spot for their ‘vantage ground. The flat being still soft and rotten, interferred very much with the outlay of speculators, as it was rather a dangerous thing to stand on a favorite who might be unable to stand on his legs; and the offers were consequently nearly all one way, viz., to back the field against anything. This was still more the case after the contretemps of the first event; but little money forsook the pockets of its owners “unmentionables.”

Joseph Blackstone was the licensee of the ‘Newtown Inn’, on the Newtown Road, an obvious port of call for those heading out from the city. Thomas Brennan was the licensee of the ‘Union Inn’, at what is now Tempe, over which Michael Gannon formerly presided over. To continue with the racing.

About half-past: 12 the bell rang for saddling for the

MAIDEN PLATE of thirty Sovereigns, for all maiden horses, with a sweepstakes of two sovereigns each added; weight for age; once round and a distance; entrance two sovereigns.

Mr. Healey us b g Inkerman. 4 yrs. (Purtell) …………1

Brown us ch m Blue Bonnet. 4 yrs. 2

Wright’s g m Bess. 3 yrs 3

Schofield’s b h Plover. 3 yrs 0

Grant’s ch g Mad Jack. aged 0

Rutter’s b g Our Joe 0

Byrne’s c m Fairy Queen. 4 yrs 0

The betting was all in favor of Plover, who was backed by many at even against the field, and at 3 to 2 against any other horse. His owner though, did not seem to fancy the course, and would not launch out on him. Inkerman had very few friends, and Bess could only boast of good words from her own individual party. Inkerman looked very well, and has improved wonderfully since Homebush. Plover seemed to have gone back.

RUNNING.- Inkerman took the start and went away at a good bat. Our Joe and Mad Jack making play at him. At the top of the hill these two gave away, and Blue Bonnet and Bess came up, coming in this order down the hill and up to the winning post: Inkerman getting in first by about a length and a half, and a good race for second place.

There was a good deal of floundering about in the heavy ground, and many long faces were drawn on the evident chances of a mishap to certain favorites in after events.


The ALL-AGE STAKES of thirty sovereigns, with a sweepstakes of two sovereigns each added; the second horse to receive six sovereigns out of the stakes; heats, one mile and a half: entrance £1 10s.

Mr. Longfield’s b g Planet. aged. (Keighran) 2 1 1

Schofield’s b m Dora. aged 1 2 2

Gibbon’s g g Little Dick. 4 yrs 0 3

Rowe’s b g Lottery. aged 3 0

FIRST HEAT.- Dora led off, raced by Lottery, Dick and Planet holding. At the turn out of the bog, Dick made a clean summersett or rather a dirty one for his rider, but was well managed from getting away and saved his distance. Planet took up the running at the top ground, and a good struggle ensued; but the mare beat him handsomely.

SECOND HEAT.- Dora again made play, Planet and the grey close behind. At the same unfortunate spot as the previous heat, Higgerson let Lottery out to force the running, and was head over heels before you could say “knife!” At the top of the hill planet overhauled the mare, and they ran astride to the rails, when whip and spur went to work, but the gelding got the best of it by a length.

THIRD HEAT.- planet led all the way round, but Dora made a desperate rush at the run in, and was only shaken off by half a length.


The SELLING STAKES of twenty-five sovereigns, with a sweepstakes of two sovereigns, with a sweepstakes of two sovereigns each added, for all horses that have never won an advertised prize above twenty-five sovereigns at the time of entrance; weight for age; twice round; the winner to be sold for thirty sovereigns, and any surplus to go to the race fund; entrance £1 10s.

Mr.Brown ns blk m Terragong Maid 4 yrs (Cotter) 1

Rutter’s b g Our Joe, aged 2

Frazer’s b g Shamrock. aged

Matthews’ br m Creeping jenny, aged

Yorke’s b g Aaron, aged

RUNNING.- Terragong Maid led, at a great pace, to the second bog, when Aaron came on her quarter; no sooner, however, was he there, than he was to be seen sprawling with his heels towards the sky. All the first round, the black mare cut out the work, the ruck changing places; but at the second, Our joe challenged, though in vain. At the turn home, Creeping Jenny came up, set to with the filly, and a most exciting struggle ensued up the rails; but, unfortunately, about 12 lengths from the Stand, she lost her footing and came down heavily. Had she been able to persevere, there is no knowing which head would first have caught the judge’s eye. This event was a decided “chapter of disasters.”

The winner was sold to Mr. Lush for 32gs. and he has certainly got a cheap bargain.

A comfortable spread at host Bown’s wound up the day’s proceedings, and all parted in good spirits for the morrow’s sport.


A brilliant morning induced a far larger attendance than even on the previous day; and if the ‘busses creaked on the yesterday, they fairly groaned on the present. So well, indeed, did the proprietors find their means of conveyance answer the public convenience, that they doubled the former shilling fare, and the consequence was, that several close-fisted folks kicked up a bob-bery. However, two shillings is a cheap outlay for such an excursion, and the only time to make hay is whilst the sun shines. Pains had been taken to do all that was possible for ameliorating the natural faults of the course, and it certainly was improved.The excitement always attending a hurdle-race caused Barwan Park to be thronged at an early hour, and all sorts “chaff” went on as to the probable number of anticipated spills. Shortly after noon, the “hindrance jumpers,” as the Mounseers call them, were marshalled by Mr. C. Beale, and went to work for the


A HURDLE RACE, for twenty-five sovereigns, with a sweepstake of three sovereigns each added, for all horses; the second horse to receive five sovereigns out of the stakes; three times round the course, over nine leaps 3ft 6 in high: Homebush welter weight: entrance £1 10s.

Mr.Grant’s ch g Fake-away, aged. (Moharty) 1

Healey ns b g Inkerman, 4 yrs.(Marsden) 0

Watt’s b h Windsor. aged 0

Rutter’s rn g Our Joe. aged dr

The lot went away very slowly at the word of command. Fake-way coming first to the initiatory jump by four or five lengths, Windsor next, and Inkerman fractious and held hard. The chestnut cleared the leap in style, Windsor following suit pretty respectably: but Inkerman was too hot-headed and ran his “nut” against the top rail before attempting to rise; thereby obtaining a complete “heels over tipper,” and breaking away. Marsden was not hurt, though considerably shaken, and he mounted again as soon as his Bucephalas was brought to him. In the mean time Fake-away cantered round, taking every jump at his ease and very cleverly; nor need we say more of his career than that he made not a baulk or mistake, and won easily, Moharty riding him with great judgment and skill. At the third jump Windsor cowed, and could neither be persuaded nor forced to take it. Inkerman then came down the hill to it at at such a slashing pace that he was obliged to go over or through it, and he certainly managed to land on the right side, though he smashed against the outside baulk-post. Marsden was thrown by the concussion completely on to the off side of his horse, but he hung on across the saddle for several lengths till he found it impossible to regain the pigskin, and had to drop. However, he was soon at it again, and charged the fourth fence as determinedly as ever, getting another severe purler thereby. Still he persevered in trying his luck, and made a fourth start after the now distant chesnut. The leap at the top of the hill the bay cleared beautifully, as on the former round, but hit the next hard, doing the same by the following one, though well saved by his jock. The upper jump was cleverly flown over, at a tremendous bat, but he was too far behind to stand any chance unless the chesnut fell at the last fence. The riding of Marsden was plucky in the extreme, for half the “allowance” he got would have been a “belly-full” for most folks; and he deserves the utmost credit for his determination to win if he could, and at any rate to afford sport to the on-lookers. Windsor never got beyond the third flight of rails; but he is only just out of coaching work, and has taken a dislike to anything but splinter-bars. Fake-away is a well-known horse across country, but has no speed: a protest was anounced against him for running in a new name. Inkerman was not allowed second place, from having gone inside the furrow when taking his third rise. He is new to this sort of work, though he can jump well if he likes, and only needs firmness and practice. When a hurdle-race is next run on this course, we hope that sheep-hurdles will be used, as they are easily put up, removed, or repaired, and are less dangerous than post and rails; good baulks should also be made on each side.

The next race winner, was ridden by its owner. Note that this is a race for “hacks,” This horse was almost certainly ridden by Joseph Hanslow, son of Peter Hanslow, a convict, whose hotel, “The Dog and Duck,” in George Street South, eventually became the headquarters of the National Sporting Club. Joseph had a number of step siblings, amongst which were Sydney Sarah Nancy and Florence George, which would be quite unremarkable if it weren’t that they were his brothers.


The COOK’S RIVER PURSE of fifteen sovereigns, for all hacks, carrying 10 stone; to be approved of by the stewards; one event, twice round; entrance £1 10s. Post entrance.

Mr. Hanslow’s b g Paddy Malone (owner) 1

Healey’s b g Little Jorrocks 2

Francis ch g Shamrock 3

The running was very good all the way round between the two first horses, Shamrock apparently waing behind, and the bays racing nearly stride for stride. On the second rising the hill, the chesnut hit out and caught his leaders, and was considered sure of winning; but to the surprise of all, on the leaders coming down the hill to the run-in, he was nowhere to be seen. There was a close battle up the rails; Hanslow winning by a long length.


The BARWAN PARK CUP, value thirty sovereigns, with a sweepstakes of three sovereigns each added, for all horses, to be handicapped by the stewards, or whom they may appoint; the second horse to receive ten sovereigns out of the stakes; one event, twice round; entrance two sovereigns. Weights to be declared at 12 o’clock on the day of the first day’s race, from the Judge’s stand; those horses not accepted to have their sweepstakes returned.

Mr. Longfield’s b g Planet, aged, 9st 9lbs (Kieghran) 1

Gibbon’s g g Little Dick, 4yrs. 8st 6lbs. 2

Schofield’s b m Dora, aged. 9st 3

Rowe’s b g Lottery, aged. 9st 0

Brown ns ch m Blue Bonnet, 4 yrs. 7st 0

Matthews blk m Black Bess, aged, 8st 0

Wright’s g m Bess, 3yrs, 7st 0

An excellent start was effected, Little Dick getting the lead, but resigning it at the first turn to Black Bess, who led more than half the distance. On rising the hill, the last time round, Planet was let out and passed the leaders like a “shot out of a gun,” Dora also getting to the front. little Dick answered well to the whip in the run home, and so did the mare: but they could only sniff Planet’s tail, though he was brought to the whip. Dick carried nearly a stone overweight.

The handicapping must have evidently given satisfaction, as every horse accepted; and the close running proved that the stewards brought them exceedingly well together. Lottery was a great “pet” for this event, but his fall the day before had evidently disheartened him, and he would not struggle through the heavy ground.


The BEATEN STAKES of ten sovereigns, for all beaten horses during the meeting; to be handicapped by the Stewards, or whom they may appoint; once round; entrance, one sovereign; post entrance.

Mr. Gibbon’s g g Little Dick, 9st (Purtell) 1

Matthew’s blk m Black Bess, 7st 7lbs 2

Wright’s g m Bess, 7st 3

Yorke’s b g Aaron 9st 0

Grant’s ch g Mad Jack, 8st 0

Little Dick jumped of with the lead, raced hard by Mad Jack and Aaron to the top of the hill. The two mares then played “second fiddle,” the black especially running game; but they could not overhaul the grey, who kept up a spanking pace and came in a clear winner by nearly two lengths. This was decidedly the fastest and pretiest race of the meeting, and proved the handicapping to have been excellent.

Thus closed the sports of the Turf, and the command was soon given for an adjournment to the dinner table. An excellent spread was provided by Host Bown, and a large party of the officials and their friends assembled round his board. On finishing the comestibles a most abundant supply of champagne was freely called for, and the evewning was wound up in a spirited and convivial manner by drinking prosperity in sparkling bumpers to all kinds of sport in general, but Barwan Park Races in particular.

In concluding our account of these first Barwan Park Races, it is gratifying to mention that no accident or injury occurred beyond the soiling of jackets and breeches; and that no disturbance arose requiring the intervention of the police. The utmost good feeling prevailed on all sides, and none of the horse-owners complained of the state of the course, all well-knowing beforehand that it had been too recently formed to be in good running state. To those at a distance who take an interest in all racing trysts, and who may think of patronising the one under present consideration, we beg leave to say that they must not be disheartened at our relation of troubles. There will be no liability to such in the future, as the next meeting is fixed for Christmas time, when the naturally soft nature of the ground will make it in tip-top condition for running on in the dry weather. At the close of the season it is intended to raise the course at the boggy land, and re-turf the whole. A Maiden Plate of 75 sovs is advertised in our columns today, and all promises well for coming sport. To Messrs Oatley, Bull, and May, who acted as stewards, Mr. George Smith, the judge, and Mr. Charles Beale, the Clerk of the Course, we present our congratulations for the successful manner in which they brought their labours to a close, and wish them the luck they will deserve if they carry out their plans for the future.

The stakes were duly paid over on Thursday afternoon, at Mr. John Beale’s, Currency Lass, and both winners and losers fraternized heartily together over more bottles of Champagne than we choose to confess the having imbibed our share. The protest against Fake-away, was not sustained.

So successful were the races, that two days, beginning on Boxing Day of the same year, were advertised as the next meeting.


APPLICATIONS for the Grand Stand, four Booths, and horse stands, at the ensuing races, will be received by Mr. Thos. J. Bown, at the Star and Garter Hotel, Newtown Road, from Monday the 3rd, to Monday the 10th of December, on which day the Tenders will be open at Mr. James May’s, Sportsman’s Hotel, Parramatta-street, at 8 o’clock in the evening. Mr. Bown will point out the stands and situations for the booths, and the highest Tender will be entitled to the first choice of ground.

The report of the second day saw it as a very successful meeting, in spite of not managing enough runners for the fifth race.



The attendance of visitors on Thursday almost equalled that of the previous day, the attractions of the steeple chase tending, no doubt, to keep alive the interest manifested on Wednesday. The best order prevailed during the day, and what is still more gratifying, no accident happened which would have the effect of marring in the least the harmony that characterised the meeting from first to last. A few “spills,” of course, were incidental to the hurdle races, but these were of so mild a nature, that not so much as a scratch was received by any of the competing jocks. Next to Mr. Bown and the Stewards (who exerted themselves to the utmost), the thanks of the subscribers are due to Mr. Charles Beal and the worthy Secretary Mr. Stone, for the success which crowned the meeting, and the general satisfaction given to all concerned. The mounted and foot police merit praise for the urbanity and discretion they evinced on both days, and for the effectiveness with which they discharged that most difficult of all duties, the maintenance of a clear course. The assemblage although numerous, were most orderly: with the exception of one or two cases of over-indulgence, sobriety was the general feature of the meeting. Nothing in the shape of a “mill” took place, although petty disputes as to the “why and wherefore” were by no means few. Altogether the Metropolitan Meet must be set down to have been one of the most successful that has taken place for some years past, and if future meetings are only conducted in the like spirit, there can be little doubt, that Barwan Park will become a favourite resort with the sporting fraternity and the lovers of the turf generally. We give the result of the second day’s sport.

First Race.- The Barwan Park Purse of 40 sovs., given by Mr. Bown, with a sweepstakes of 3 sovs. each added; for all horses carying 10 st. 7 lbs. each; three times round the course, over 9 leaps, 3 feet 9 inches high. Entrance £3 The second horse to receive the sweep.

Mr. Champion’s b.g. Volunteer, 4 yrs (Tim) 1

Mr. Henderson’s ns b. g. Inkermann, 4 yrs. (Rice) 2

Mr. Lynch’s ch g. Thorntopper aged (Jones) 3

Mr. Armstrong’s g.g. Robin Gray 0

Mr. Schofield’s b.g. Dusty 0

Mr. Grant’s br. g. Fear Not dr

Inkerman and Thorntopper were the favourites for this event, the former being mostly in call at even money against any other. Inkermann led at a rattling pace, keeping the ruck to their work, but at the first hurdle he stumbeld and fell, carrying away the rails. At the second leap, Thorntopper, who was leading baulked and fell, dropping Jones easily upon his mother earth, Robin Gray proving restive, and for some time refusing to take the hurdle, allowed all the others to pass him at this point; Dusty taking up a very respectable position in the van. Subsequently the positions were changed two or three times, but on coming to the eighth leap, the race, to all appearance lay between Dusty and Volunteer, the latter holding first place by about a neck. Dusty fell heavily at the hurdle, however giving the advantage at once to Volunteer, who after a severe race with Inkermann was landed a winner at the post by two lengths, Thorntopper (badly ridden) taking third place.

Why the Hanslows’ originating in Birmingham, England should give their horses Irish names is another little mystery associated with this somewhat eccentric family.

Second Race.-A Hack Hurdle Race of 10 sovs. with a Sweepstakes of 1 sov. each added, for all hack horses; twice round the course, over 6 leaps, 3 feet 6 inches high; carrying 10 stone each. Entrance £1. The second horse to receive the sweepstakes.

Mr. Henderson’s ns b.g. Inkermann (Rice) 1

Mr. Lynch’s ch g. Thorntopper aged (Jones) 2

Mr. Grogan’s g.g. Grey Steel 0

Mr. Hanslow’s b.g. Smith O’Brien dr

This race like the preceding one, was characterised by a few “spills,” chiefly owing to bad jockeyship, rather than to any inherent faults in the horses themselves. Up to the 5th hurdle, Grey Steel had the race secured, but not clearing the leap, his off hind hoof struck the rail and brought him to the ground. Thorntopper and Inkermann rushing up to a foremost place immediately. The latter two cleared the sixth hurdle nearly abreast, and a spirited race ensued to the post, Inkermann winning by about a neck. A protest was lodged against the winner on the ground that he is not a hack. The decision of the stewards will be given on Friday next.

Third race.- The Welter Stakes of 30 sovs. for all horses carrying Homebush Welter weights; the winner of a welter to carry 7lbs. extra; heats, one mile and a half. Entrance £3.

Mr. Cutt’s b.h. Ben Bolt (Gaffer) 1 1

Mr. Schofield’s b.g Whitefoot (Willis) 2 2

Mr. Cousley’s ch. m. Blue Bonnet dis.

Blue Bonnet, who was holding place a close second, stumbled, and fell about fifty yards from the distance post in the first heat, and was thereby disqualified. The second heat, therefore, lay between Ben bolt and Whitefoot, and, as generally expected, was won by the former, after a well contested race, the latter being about a length behind.

Fourth Race.- The Selling Stakes of 30 sovs., with a sweepstakes of 2 sovs. each; for all horses; weight for age; one event, twice round the course. The winner to be sold by public auction immediately after the race for £50, any surplus to go to the Club funds. Entrance, £3. The second horse to receive the sweepstakes.

Mr. Grant’s blk. m. Terragong Maid (Cuttor) 1

Mr. Hawthorne’s g. g. Wild Blood 2

Mr. Meharty’s b. g. Callender 3

Mr. Harley’s Flirt 0

Mr. Cousley’s ch. m. Blue Bonnet 0

This was a capital race, and lay chiefly between the Maid and Wild Blood, who singled out from the ruck shortly after leaving the post. Whip and spur were plied most vigorously in the second rounding, the Terragong Maid winning by barely half a length. She was subsequently submitted to public competion, and knocked down to Mr. Healy at £51.

In cosequence of there not being sufficient entries for the 5th race (the consolation Stakes), a hack race was got up in lieu thereof, for which five entries were made, viz.: Davison’s Flora, Grant’s Uncle Tom, Driscoll’s Pablo Fanque, Hanslow’s Paddy Malone, and Brown’s Catchweight. Flora took both heats with the greatest ease, and came in without the least appearance of fatigue. She was well ridden by young Francis, who succeeded on the previous day in carrying off the hack stakes.

This race concluded the sports. The “settling” took place yesterday afternoon at Beal’s Currency Lass, when the whole of the winners, with the exception of Ben Bolt, in the Welter, was awarded their respective prizes. The decision in this case cannot be given until the 15th proximo.

Racing was offered a few days later at Cook’s River.



THE Sydney public are informed that races will take place on New Year’s Day, opposite the Cook’s River Inn, by Mr. J.S. Henry, who has lengthened the course by half as much again as originally laid out and made it in every respect as eligible a bit of turf as any in the colony.

Particulars of prizes &c., will appear in a future advertisement.

When J.S. Henry attempted to sell the ‘Cook’s River Inn’ in 1858, he described it as, “ being on the junction corner, and having a frontage to the Wooden Bridge Road and the main Cook’s River Road.” What appears to fit this description is the junction of Station Street and the Princes Highway. Station Street was formerly known as Unwin Street and went to Unwin’s Bridge which still crosses the Cook’s River.

Competition entry was exclusive to hacks and cart horses and prize money pitifully small. Lime burning kilns were a feature on the banks of Cook’s River. They depended on a plentiful supply of shells (preferably fresh oyster) to supply the kilns, hence the “Limeburner’s Purse and The Shell Getter’s Purse.”



FIRST RACE. – THE LIMEBURNERS’ PURSE of 5 sovs, for all hackneys, not exceeding 14 1/2 hands high, that never won a prize of £5; heats, one mile. Entrance, 10s each. The losing horses to run over again for the sweepstakes.

Second Race – A first-rate set of Harness, for all cart horses; heats, once round the course. Entrance, £1 each – four entrances or no race. The winner to draw a ton weight round the course if required.

Third Race – A splendid Hogskin Saddle, by all approved Hack Horses, that never won a prize of £5; catch weights; heats, one mile and a half. Entrance, £1 each; four entrances or no race.

Fourth Race – A Private match between Barden’s Cocktail and Henry’s Die Hard, carrying 10 st each, for £10 a side


First Race – THE HACK HURDLE RACE, for a splendid Hogskin Saddle, for all approved hacks horses, that have never won a prize of £5; catch weights; twice round the course, over six leaps three feet high; four entrances or no race.

Second Race – THE SHELL GETTERS’ PURSE of 5 Sovs. and a sweepstakes of 10s each added, for hackneys not exceeding 14 1/2 hands high, that have never won a prize of £5; catch weights; twice round the course, over six leaps 2 feet 6 inches high. Entrance, 10s. each, the second horse to receive the sweepstakes.

Third Race – A SWEEPSTAKES HACK RACE, for all approved hack horses, carrying weight for size, heats once round the course.

The first race each day to start at 12 o’clock.


The folowing year, 1856, the same pattern emerges, with racing at Barwan Park on, Boxing Day, with a distinct loss of class.



FIRST RACE.-THE SUBSCRIPTION PURSE OF 15 sovs. for all hacks that have never won an advertised prize; heats, one mile and a half; weight 8st 7lbs; entrance, £1 10s; qualifications, 10s; five entrances or no race.

Second Race- PONY RACE OF £8 8s, with a sweepstakes of 10s. each added, for ponies not exceeding 13 hands; one mile and a half; catch weights; entrance, 15s; no qualification, four entrances or no race; the second pony to receive his sweep.

THIRD RACE FOR CART HORSES, £5 5s. with a sweepstakes of 10s each added; entrance 10s; once round and a distance; to carry 12st each; the second horse to receive his sweep; three entrances or no race.

Entrances for the above will be received at Mr. Charles Beal’s, Simpson’s Hotel, George street, on Wednesday evening 24th December, between the hours of seven and ten p.m., and for the convenience of parties who may not be able to attend, they will be taken at the post on the day of racing.

The first race to start at 12 o’clock. The decision of the Stewards in all cases to be final.

FOOT RACE of 150 yards for all amateurs who have never won a public prize; prize £2. second man to receive 10s; entrance 5s; four entries or no race.

THE BRICKMAKER’S FLAT RACE of 200 yards, for all Brickmakers carrying a brick in each hand; prize £2: second man to receive 10s: entrance 5s; each brick not to weigh less than 7lbs; four entrances or no race.

The remainder of the day will be devoted to various old English sport, such as pig chasing, wheelbarrow racing, climbing the greasy pole, jumping in sacks, bobbing for rolls, &c, &c.

N.B. No charge for admission to the grounds.

BARWAN PARK RACES. – The Entrances for the Brickmaker’s Flat Race will be taken at Mr. Jos. Blackstone’s, Newtown Inn, and also at the Hero of Waterloo, Cook’s River Road, by Mr. Jno. Cook.

The press report –


DESPITE the numerous other attractions advertised for boxing day, Barwan Park obtained a full share of public patronage; the Sydney omnibusses having a grand field day in the conveyance of passengers backwards and forwards. Horsemen and carriages were not very numerous, but all present evidently came out with a firm determination to enjoy their holiday. It was found neccessary to alter several of the horse races from the published programme, and the following is a report of the several races run……..

The first race…

Mr. … ……….Vulcan 1 2 1

Mr. Maloney’s Who’d Ha’ Thought It 3 1 2

Mr. Newbold’s Bay Dolly 2 dis.

In the first heat, Vulcan made his own running in spite of Bay Dolly’s attempt to overhaul him, Who’d Have Thought It not trying, reserving himself for the next attempt.- Vulcan winning eventually. In the second heat, Who’d Ha’ Thought It led, Vulcan following closely, when an excellent and well contested race took place, the result of which was was that, Who’d Ha’ Thought It passed the post first. In the third heat Vulcan dashed away at a tremendous pace, and was followed closely by Maloney’s Who’d Ha’ Thought It, who was ineffectual in his attempt to catch Vulcan, who won cleverly at last.

The second race was a pony race…

Mr. Maloney’s White Stockings 1

Mr. Driscoll’s Dora 2

Mr. Kent’s Sampson 0

Mr. Richardson’s Jorrocks 0

Mr. Dolon’s Jenny Lind 0

At starting they all went away nearly together, but none of the others had anything to do with the race but the two first, between whom a very close struggle ensued,- White Stockings winning by half a neck.

The third race was for all hacks…….

Mr. Driscoll’s Dora 1

Mr. Maloney’s Black Jack 0

Mr. Kent’s Hampton 0

The two last mentioned horses dashed away, and maintained the lead for a time, but, when about two thirds round the course, bolted; and being objected to, were pronounced distanced, and stakes awarded to Dora.

The fouurth race for all cart horses…

Mr. Maloney’s Black Jack 1

Mr. Kent’s Hampton 2

Mr. O’Malley’s Nugget dis.

Black Jack who was ridden by his owner won easy. A variety of other amusements took place-such as running in sacks, foot races, bobbing for rolls, racing with wheelbarrows, swinging, &c., &c.; and all seemed to afford great enjoyment to the holiday seekers, and doubtless the sports would have continued to a much later hour, had not the heavy rain set in about four o’clock.

Thus terminated racing at Barwon Park. “Old English Sports” fireworks, and and trapeze and acrobats, were all part of the Anniversary (Australia) Day entertainment for 1857. The park became the venue for pigeon shooting and “Old English Sports.”

Mr. Henry had promised much the same as the previous year at his hotel. However it was not to be, for it appears the rain, which blighted the Barwon Park Race Day, may have had the same effect on Cooks River’s.


To Come Off at the Cook’s River Inn, on New Year’s Day.

FIRST Race – A Purse of 5 sovs, for all ponies not exceeding 14 hands, that have never won a prize; carrying 9st; heats, once round the course. Entrance, 10s. Four entrances or no race.

Second Race – A Hog-skin Saddle, by cart horses, to carry 10 st.; once round

and a distance; one event; the winner to draw a ton round the course if required. Entrance, £1. Four entrances or no race.

Third Race – A set of Cart Harness, by cart horses; to carry 10 st. each; once round and a distance; one event; the winner to draw a ton round the course. Entrance £1. Four entrances or no race. No horse to be entered in this race, that runs in the previous race.

Fourth Race – A Hogskin Saddle, for all hacks that have never won a prize of £5; catch weights; twice round the course; one event. Entrance, £1. Four entrances or no race


1857/1/3 Sport. Horse Racing Cooks River Postponed

COOK’S RIVER RACES, which were advertised to come off at Cook’s River Inn, on New Year’s Day, have been postponed (owing to the inclemency of the weather), till Monday next, the 5th January 1957, when several private matches are expected to come off in addition to those previously advertised.


In December 1857 a report of a challenge featured a horse named Veno (Latin for “poison.”).

1857/12/12 Sport. Horse Racing Veno

VENO AND TOMBOY. – The owner of Veno has accepted the challenge to run Tomboy for £2000. The reason assigned for not accepting the challenge previously was the pending race between Veno and the Tasmanian horse, which is now “off.” This acceptance is not likely to result in anything, as Tomboy received some injury at Ballaarat.

Such was Veno’s fame, that ten years after his career had ended, enquires were still being made to the sporting press, verifying the results of his races.

This celebrated racehorse perhaps had a St. Peters, Cook’s River, connection. The Rev. Baber, in 1873, had a very spirited horse of fifteen hands called Veno. Whether it was called after or was indeed the animal itself is worthy of some conjecture.

Veno pictured with the Revs. Stanley Howard and Charles Baber.

By 1857, Cook’s River Races had moved to Boxing Day, with Barwan Park only offering pigeon shooting.The other competition coming from the races at Ashfield.

BOXING-DAY AMUSEMENTS. -……. At Barwan Park a pigeon match for a silver cup, valued at ten guineas. The Ashfield races, on the Ashfield course, commence at noon. The Cook’s River races, at the Cook’s River Inn.

Whilst the quality of the racing at Cook’s River for Boxing Day in 1859 doesn’t change, mine host at the ‘Cook’s River Inn’ is now Henry Geering.


to come off on MONDAY. December, 26th

First Race – For hacks that have never won an advertised prize…….

Second Race – For ponies not exceeding 14 hands high, twice round the course……..Third Race. – For all bone fide cart horses known to be working on the Cook’s River Road, once round the course…… Fourth – A foot race for a new riding whip.

Several foot races and quoits matches, and a variety of other sports will come off during the day.


Cook’s River Inn, Cook’s River.

This event may well have been the high point of racing at Cook’s River.


THE races customary at Cook’s River on Boxing Day came off with considerable eclat yesterday. The assembly of gaily-dressed holiday-keepers and pleasure-seekers congregated at Cook’s River on this occasion was not so large as might otherwise have been expected. Though there were some sports of a minor character on the hill overlooking the river, those on the racecourse – and they consisted for the most part of horse and foot races – attracted by far the largest concourse of people.

As it was, the prowess of the horses belonging to the farmers and other residents of the surrounding country, rather than of regularly trained race horses, that was to be tested, a large number of the classes mentioned, on their favourite hacks, came into the village from all quarters to witness the sport. At about one o’clock the first race was started by Mr. N.Gannon, Judge who was also appointed starter and umpire. The following were the conditions of the race: – For all hacks that have never won an advertised prize, for a new hogskin saddle and bridle. Entrance, £1. Four entrances or no race; heats.

For this race there were four entrances, as follows:-

Mr. J. Gannon’s Butcher.

Mr. Bardon’s Flash Jack.

Mr. Davis’ Paddy from Cork.

Mr. Hughes’ Corn Dealer.

The race was well contested and was won by Mr. Gannon’s Butcher taking both heats.

The second and only other horse race for an advertised prize (though there were several others ad vertised, but from unpropitious circumstances did not come off) was for all bone fide cart horses known to be working on the Cook’s River Road, once round the course, for a new set of cart harness. Entrance £1. Four entrances or no race.

For this race there were also four entries.

Mr. Bryan’s Brickmaker.

Mr. Gluck’s Paddy Darling.

Mr. R. Harden’s Colonial.

Mr. R. Newcombe’s Coachey.

This race was won by Mr. Bryan’s Brickmaker two lengths.

A foot race for a new riding whip, entrance 5s., was the next on the progamme. There were five entrances.

Prize taken by Joseph Gannon.

The next race for a prize was a foot race, exclusively confined to carters. Prize, a new riding whip. There were three entrances.

Won by Thomas Kelly.

Besides these races, there were others, both horse and foot races, made up among the owners of the competing horses in the one case, and by the rival runners in the others, which afforded much sport to the persons assembled. Though racing was the great attraction to the mass, many persons amused themselves with quoits and other sports. As the shades of evening began to

advance the holiday seekers dispersed towards their respective habitation. Though several of the riders who – in these particular cases, appeared to be amateurs, and unaccustomed to riding at races – were observed to fall heavily from the saddles of their hacks, we are glad to state that no serious accidents occurred throughout the day.

Disenchantment had set in by New Years Day of 1861.


There was a gathering of about one hundred persons in the village of Cook’s River yesterday, called thither, no doubt by advertisements, in which it was stated that some races would come off. There was accordingly an attempt at racing, but it turned out a contemptible affair. The prizes contended for were paltry in the extreme, and their value was covered by the united entrance fees of those who ran their horses in the respective races.

We append an account of the racing, such as it was.

FIRST RACE.- Heavy cart horses (disputed on Boxing Day); prize, a set of heavy cart harness.

Mr. W. Brian’s g. g. Flying Dutchman 1

W. Crysty’s b. g. Beeswing 2

There were but two entrances for this race. At the start, both horses bolted off the course; but the bay horse was soon brought back, and again started with a lead of over one hundred yards of the grey; the grey, had no sooner returned to the course than the distance between him and the bay sensibly decreased, and before he reached the winning post he had passed his horse and won by several lengths.

SECOND RACE.-for all hacks; prize, a saddle and bridle: heats.

Mr. Barden’s br.g. Tommy 1

Dent’s bay horse

Brian’s Rooney

Deemer’s Spanker

First heat, Tommy and Rooney ran a dead heat, the bay horse third, and Spanker fourth.

Second heat won by Tommy, with Rooney second (having thrown his jockey), Spanker third, and the bay fourth.

Third heat, Rooney went away with the lead, but was soon collared by Tommy, who passed him and came in an easy winner, with the bay second, Rooney third, and Spanker fourth.

THIRD RACE.-Spring-cart harness; prize, a saddle and bridle.

Mr. Peake’s Black Joe 1

J. Barden’s chesnut pony

E. Bardon’s iron grey

Dryhurst’s Kate

First heat, won easily by Black Joe, with Kate second, the chesnut running third, and the iron grey nowhere.

Second heat, the chesnut first, Kate second, and Black Joe third.

Third heat, won by Black Joe, Kate second, the chesnut third.

This conclude the day’s sport, and those few who had not previously left then dispersed homewards.

Boxing Day of 1868 saw the first and last race meeting held at Sans Souci. It appears to have been promoted by William Rust, proprietor of the ‘Sans Souci Hotel’. There was more on offer than simply the races.

SANS SOUCI.-The Fire king, steamer which trades to the Manning River, took about three hundred people to Sans Souci, Botany Bay….. At Sans Souci the programme of sports was unusually attractive, the horse racing being above the common.A grand luncheon was provided in the pavilion and while the guests were at the tables two Highlanders, with bagpipes, regaled them with Celtic music, by continously marching round the tables and blowing away with much perseverance. After luncheon the excursionists separated into groups, some preferring one game and some another…..

The ‘San Souci Hotel’ was built by Thomas Holt as his private home. It was on the point at Sans Souci, near where the present Captain Cook Bridge crosses the Georges River. There is still a wharf to the west of the bridge. It is difficult to imagine the difficulties faced by those accessing it by road.

The route (from Sydney) is through the village of Cook’s River (Tempe).. is one of the best macadamised roads in the colony. From the dam (across Cook’s River) to Sans Souci the distance by the road is about four miles and a half. The road however is heavy and somewhat rough. To go by way of the beach…. leave the main road about a hundred yards beyond the dam and turning to the left, ascend a hill which … does not seem to lead anywhere in particular. A piece of the crown of this hill has been excavated wide enough to allow vehicles to pass, and this .. forms the entrance to Muddy Creek Road, which is well defined all the way to Patmore Swamps. ….From the head of these swamps to the Seven -Mile Beach there is a bridle-track over about half-a-mile of undulating sandy country, covered with stunted scrub and bush flowers. There are marked trees the whole distance.

It was reported –


Owing to the distance which this pleasant picnicing place lies from the city, and to the rather indifferent road over a considerable portion of the journey-that lying between Cook’s River and Sans Souci- this outlying resort of wedding parties and pleasure seekers has not hitherto received that amount of patronage upon holidays which is usually bestowed upon Manly Beach, Middle Harbour and some two or three other time-honoured shots(sic): but on Saturday last an unusually large number of visitors congregated there. From an early hour in the morning omnibuses, cabs, dogcarts, and vehicles of various other descriptions took holiday keepers out to Sans Souci, while not a few were from Sydney, but more from outlying country places made the journey on horseback, and some, unblessed by vehicle, or horse, or means of procurring one, made the journey on “footback,” and we did not envy them the tramp. But the most popular mode of locomotion, popular because cheap, with every prospect of fine weather and a calm sea, was by the Fire King steamer, which was advertised to leave the foot of King-street at 10 o’clock in the morning. This vessel had as many passengers as she could comfortably accommodate, a very large proportion of them being ladies; and as the sea was smooth and the weather cool and pleasant, the trip turned out a very enjoyable one. She disembarked her passengers between one and two o’clock, and they immediately scattered themselves over the grounds, selected suitable resting places, and then commenced to unpack their picnicing baskets preparatory to the luncheon, for which their sea trip had so well prepared them. Long before the arrival of the Fire King excursionists a large number of people.. had reached the ground and were amusing themselves in a variety of ways, the races being the principal attraction. it may be imagined that the races formed the attractive feature which drew so many holiday folks out to this beautiful spot, but we refuse to believe it; we opine rather that the anticipation of a pleasant ride out, or of a fine trip by sea, with the prospect of spending the best hours of the time-honoured holiday in one of the most beautiful spots in the environs of Sydney, had far more to do with it than the races, and we may add that those who come with the expectation of seeing something super-excellent in the way of equine contests must have been some-what disappointed. Not that the races were below the ordinary country race meeting standard. A race course, fifty chains in length, had been staked out, a “grand stand.” occupied by two ladies, two children, two representatives of the Press and one official, who, as circumstances required, acted as secretary, treasurer, clerk of the course, clerk of the scales, committee, starter and judge(!), had been erected, but there was no fixed time for starting each race, no bell to warn owners and trainers to get ready, and no one seemed seemed to know the names of the horses or of the conditions of the contest until the horses put in an appearance at the post. The two most prominent officials were Mr. Udhe and Mr. West, and, to do them justice, both exerted themselves to the utmost to make everything pass of pleasantly.

The very active stewards were, Louis Uhde, who had a slaughter house at Cook’s River, which the St. Peters Council Inspector of Nuisances took some action against in 1871. Mr. West is more than likely the cabinet maker, Spencer West, grandson of a convict.

Without further remark we shall briefly describe the races that came off.

First Race.- Maiden Plate of 10 sovereigns; weight for age. Twice round.

Mr. J. Driscoll’s b.m. Dora, 4 years, 8st. 9lbs. (Cutts) 1

_____ b.m. Lucy Escott (Kelly) 2

______ Boxer (ridden by an aboriginal boy) 3

Dora led from the start, with the grey mare second, and Boxer third (Blue Bonnet having bucked her rider off early in the race): and this order was maintained until they reached the back of the course the second time, when the grey went to the front, and led up to the straight running, where Cutts called upon Dora, who answered gamely and ran home the winner.

Second Race, for two silver cups; once round; heats.

Weight for age.

Lucy Escott (Kelly) 1 1

Boxer (Aboriginal boy) 2 2

In the start for the first heat Boxer swerved, which gave the grey a great advantage. At the back of the course Boxer caught the mare and raced with her for a short distance; but as they approached the winning-post the mare came away and won easily.

In the second heat the mare again got off with the lead, which she maintained throughout the race, winning easily.

Third Race.- St. George’s Handicap, of 20 sovereigns, twice round; heats.

Robin Hood, 7 st. 10lbs, 1 3 w.o.

Gardiner, 9st. 0 1

Whalebone, 10st. 9lbs. 2 0

Beeswing. 7st 10lbs. 3 2

Dora, 9st. 0 0

In the first heat Whalebone got away in front with Beeswing second, and all the others close up. Before 200 yards had been traversed Robin Hood passed Beeswing, and in the next hundred yards Whalebone also.This order was continued both times round, Robin Hood winning the heat by a couple of lengths.

In the second heat, Beeswing got the best of the start, and held it once round although closely pressed by Gardiner. After passing the stand the second time , Gardiner went up to Beeswing, passed her, and the race was over.

There being a general impression that there was nothing in the race that could foot it with Robin Hood, at the weights, the “bold forester” was allowed to canter over the course for the money, Gardiner being reserved for the next race.

Fourth Race.- The Forest Race of 10 sovereigns; once round. Weight for age.

Gardiner (Kelly) 1

Sir Charles 2

Only two horses came to the post. The race was a close one all round.

Several matches came off during the afternoon, but the contestants were “unknown” to “fame,” and the results interested nobody but the owners of the competing horses. The Fire King left a little before five o’clock on her return trip to Sydney, and an hour later nearly all the visitors were on their way homeward, having made the most of a really enjoyable day.

On Easter Monday of 1874, John McInnes of the ‘Tempe Hotel’ promoted racing at Cook’s River. His ‘Tempe Hotel’ was south of Cook’s River in what is now the suburb of Wolli Creek. Its exact location was on the corner of what is now the Princes Highway and the southern side of Brodie Spark Drive. The racecourse was on the eastern side of the highway, on what is now Cahill Park, today a venue for the circus when it visits the area.

A touch of class is added to the proceedings by the attendance of Mr. John Lucas, M.L.A. as judge, but the great likelihood is that the steward Thomas Parkes is probably the retired pugilist publican, better known as the “Sprig of Myrtle,” and James Chisholm is the local baker, who in 1867, was insolvent. Neither Henry Parkes or Caroline Chisholm being related.


The Cook’s River races, yesterday, attracted about 600 persons from Sydney and the surrounding district.The lack of sufficient omnibus accommodation was a great drawback to the perfect success of the race meeting. The inconvenience was principally occasioned by the Newtown company having taken several of their large omnibuses to run to Randwick. Hundreds were unable to attend the race meeting at Cook’s River, owing to the omnibuses …being rushed and crowded by the excess of pleasure-seekers.The racecourse on Mr. Mc Innes’s grounds.. beyond the Dam, and next Mr. McInnes’s hotel. The property was recently sold by the executors of the late W.C. Wentworth. A portion of the ground is subject to innundation by spring-tides; but Mr. McInnes has nearly completed the construction of an embankment along the side of the river for the purpose of turning the reclaimed ground into a race course. the ground even at present is admirably adapted for horse racing, but it is anticipated that when the work is completed the locality will be one of the most attractive spots for sports.

So far as yesterday’s racing was concerned, everything passed off satisfactorily. Mr. John Lucas, M.L.A., officiated as judge. The stewards were Messrs. James Smithson, John Nithington, Thomas Parkes, James Chisholm, and David Henman. Mr. John McInnes was the secretary and treasurer. Mr. Street acted as starter……….

The first race was the Maiden plate of £10, weight for age, which was won by Mr. Brambley’s Little Dick, 5 years, carrying 9st. 2lbs.; Mr. Nooneeen’s New Chum, aged, 9st 3lbs., being second. Five horses started for this race, and there was a good contest between the two named and Mr. Pugh’s Rocket. The next event was a Hack Race for £5, in which five horses competed, the winner being Mr. Everingham’s Jerry, Mr. Abott’s Young Jeffrey being a good second.Four horses started for the Pony Race, £6.Mr. Burke’s Corisande was the winner, and Mr. Evans’s Rose second in each heat. The Tempe Handicap of £15, next on the card, was the grand event of the day. It was run in heats, the result was the same in each, Mr. Brambley’s Little Dick coming in first, carrying 9st., with Mr. Foley’s Riveter 9st. 6lbs. second, and Mr. Nooneen’s New Chum 8st. 9lbs. third.

A Hurry-scurry finished the programme, the prize falling to Mr. McFarlane’s Whynot, with Mr. Davis’s Billy Grey second. Several private matches and some extempore hurry scurry races filled up the intervals between the advertised races, and kept up the spirit of the meeting without flagging until the close. Mr. McInnes, of the Tempe hotel, had a booth on the ground, where refreshments of all kinds were sold, and which appeared to be liberally patronised.

There was hope for the formation of a racecourse at Kogarah. In April 1880, a meeting was held at the ‘Tempe Hotel’, previously owned by John McInnes but now owned by G.R.Jacobs. Later it was known as the ‘Gladstone’.


A meeting was held at Jacob’s Tempe Hotel on Thursday, April 15, for the purpose of forming a racing club. Mr. Jacobs was voted to the chair. Mr.P. Moore offered his racecourse for a term of five years to the club free of charge; the estimated cost to put the ground in racing order would be about £10. About forty or fifty rods of fencing would be required, which Mr. Moore agreed to furnish posts for, the rails and labour to be furnished by the club. The proposed name of the club to be the Moorefield Racing Club, and to consist of about forty members: the charge for membership to be £2 per annum, payable in advance. There were about twenty gentlemen present, and after some discussion the meeting adjourned till Tuesday, the 27th instant.

By April 1854,Cornelius Prout had an ambitious plan for his land at Canterbury, near the present ice skating rink.


TO let, at Cook’s River, near Canterbury for three day’s racing. The whole of the rent will be laid out in improving the course previous to the race.

It may not have been the success which Cornelius had hoped for, the only recorded details being, in the same year.

Canterbury Race-Course.


A MATCH for £20 a-side will be run on Prout’s course, on Whit-Monday, between Mr. Timothy Fullow’s m Queen of Trumps,’ and Mr Thomas Gardiner’s blk m Skew Ball.

Other races will take place: and every information can be obtained at Mr. West’s public-house, near the Sugar Works.

Unlike the racing at Sans Souci, racing at Canterbury is still with us, and it dates from 1871. Frederick Clissold seems to have taken an interest in all things equine, not only horse racing but hunting. In 1868 he set up a wool washing plant on the bank of the river opposite the Sugar Mill at Canterbury. Reports suggest it was one of the seven wonders of the industrial world which used a pump capable of lifting fifteen tons of water per minute from the Cook’s River. Within a month Marrickville had complained of the pollution further down stream and the proprietor’s were compelled to install charcoal filters.



November 9, 1871.

Judge: John Lucas, Esq., M.L.A.

Treasurer: Mr. T.A. Davis,

Stewards: Messrs. Clissold, Hill, Drake, West, Mooney, and Smithson.

Starter: Mr. George Davidson.

Secretary: Mr. John Wilton.

Clerk of Course: Mr. George Davis.

First Race. – MAIDEN PLATE of 10 soverigns; 11/2 mile.

Second Race.- For £5, with entrance added of 10s. each horse, given by Messrs. Clissold and Hill, to be handicapped on the ground.

Third Race. – CANTERBURY HANDICAP 10 sovereigns; 11/2 mile.

Fourth Race. – PONY RACE 3 sovereigns; for all ponies under 14 hands; heats.

Fifth Race. – Beaten horses, 5 sovereigns event; 11/2 mile.


Four entries or no race.

Penalty on Maiden Plate and Handicap winner, £1.

Decisions of Stewards to be final and conclusive.

Entries of 10 per cent. on amount of prize.

Entries for first and third race will be taken up to noon of the 6th November, addressed to the Hon. Treasurer, care of Mr. George Davidson, Camperdown.

Riders to appear in clean jockey costumes.

All fruit, cake, and cordial stalls will be charged 10s. before admittance.


Fifteen minutes walk from Ashfield Station.

First race to start at half-past 12 o’clock.

Ireland’s Omnibus will leave Clarence-street at half past 11 a.m.

The present Canterbury Race Course is a circuit of over one and a half miles.Though deemed Canterbury Races this is decidedly not on the same course. A one and a half mile race in this instance, requires three times round the course. The present day racegoer would be familiar with the manner in which the races were conducted, the weights the horses carried and the terms weight for age and handicapping. Of social interest are the weights some of the more lightly handicapped horses carried. Some only being given less than seven stone, where as today it would be difficult to find any horse carrying less than eight stone. For those unfamiliar with racing parlance it should be added that the sire or dame of some of the place getting horses are mentioned. Abreviations before the horses name perhaps need some explanation, “ch.f.” means chestnut filly, “gr. g. grey gelding, “b.m.” and “br.h.” brown horse. The “L” before a number e.g. L10 is the manner in which newspapers of the time sometime showed the “£” sign. Pony Races ae no longer part of a normal race meeting.



Judge: John Lucas, Esq., M.L.A.Treasurer: Mr. T.A. Davis,

Stewards: Messrs. Clissold, Hill, Drake, West, Mooney, and Smithson.

Starter: Mr. George Davidson.Secretary: Mr. John Wilton.Clerk of Course: Mr. George Davis.

These races came off on Thursday, and pleased we are to be able to state that they were successful in every respect. There were about 300 persons present, and they appeared to thoroughly enjoy the sport. The officials were truly assiduous in their efforts to bring the races off with proper eclat, and the exertions of Messrs. Clissold and Davies are deserving of all praise. The following is a detailed account of the sport:-

Maiden Plate of L10; 11/2 mile.

Mr. McNamara’s ch f. by Kyogle out of Queen of Hearts, 3 yrs, 7st 1lb (W. Westbrook 1

J. Driscoll’s b g Nemo by Lord of the Hills, aged, 9 st 5 lbs (J. Cooke) 2

Steenson’s ch h Alarm 4 yrs 8 st 12 lbs 3

Captain Alrey’s Vagabond, aged 9 st 5 lbs

A middling start was effected, Vagabond, the Kyogle filly, and Alarm being the first to show in advance. They kept their positions for the first time round, when the Kyogle filly rushed to the front, and led at a great pace – Vagabond and Nemo running second and third. Coming the third round, Vagabond was in difficuly, and was soon passed by Nemo, but the latter could never get on terms with the filly, who won pretty easily by a couple of lengths – Nemo second, and Alarm third.

Second Race. – The Pony Race of L3; for all ponies under 14 hands; heats.

Mr. Buckle’s Fly 6 st 7 lbs 1

Hammerton’s Camilla , 8 st

Flanagan’s gr g Lanty, 7 st 7 lbs

McBeath’s Jerry, 7 st 2 lbs

H.H.A.’s Butterfly 6 st. 7 lbs.

In the first heat Camilla came in the winner; erry, second, and Lanty third. In the second heat Butterfly was first, Jerry second, and Camilla third; but Jerry having ran inside a post in the first heat was disqualified, and all the rest of the ponies, with the exception of Fly, being over weight, they were disqualified, and the prize awarded to the latter.

Third Race. – The Canterbury Handicap of L10; 11/2 mile.

Mr. McCoy’s Illawarra, 5 yrs. 7 st. 3 lbs 1

J. Driscoll’s Index, 5 yrs 11 st 2

Black’s Saddler, 6 yrs 8 st 4 lbs 3

Steenson’s br g Alarm 4 yrs 8 st 7 lbs

Captain Alrey’s Vagabond, aged, 8 st

Record led the start, but was soon passed by Illawarra and Index; but the Jamberoo mare soon went to the front and led by a long distance. The second time round Index and Saddler were second and third; Billy Driscoll, however, on Index made a great run at the finish, and was only beaten by a head; Saddler a middling third.

Fourth Race. – For L5 with entrances added of 10s each horse, given by Messrs. Clissold and Hill. 11/2 mile.

Mr. Driscoll’s index 9 st 7 lbs J. Cooke) 1

Black’s Saddler, 7 st 7 lb 2

Moss’s Vanity, 7 st 3

McNamara’s Kyogle filly, 7 st 12 lbs

McKenney’s Charlie, 7 st 7 lbs

Steenson’s Alarm 6 st 7 lbs

Record, Index, and Kyogle, lead the first round, but the latter shortly afterwards bolted, and Record dying away, Index was left in command; he was closely pushed by Saddler for a time, but eventually won rather easily.

Fifth Race. – A Hack Scurry Race; 11/2 mile.

Mr. Hammerton’s Camilla 1

Davis’s Roaney 2

Smith’s brown horse 3

Three others started, but the race resulted in an easy victory

to Camilla.

Sixth Race. – For all beaten horses; prize, L5; 11/2 mile.

Mr. Black’s Saddler, 6 st 7 lbs 1

J. Driscoll’s Nemo, 7 st 2

Coleman’s Blue Roan 3

Smithson’s Whynot, 7 st

Nemo and Blue Roan made great running for the first mile; but they both died away at the finish, and Saddler won easily, mainly through the bad driving of Nemo’s jockey.

This being the last race on the programme, a move was soon made towards home, but the Sydney visitors did not reach town until a very late hour.

All in all a successful day, and one in which we would begin to recognise racing as we know it today. There was but one difficulty.

The settling over the late Canterbury Races took place on Tuesday last, but we regret to say that occurred in connection with the races, which will, so we are informed, be shortly be brought before a court of justice. The dispute occurred about the age of Illawarra who won the Canterbury Handicap; he having been entered and run as a five year old; whereas, Mr. Driscoll, the owner of the second horse, Index states that he is actually six years old; having run at the Wollongong Races in 1869, as a four, and at the same meeting in 1870, as a five-year-old, and he consequently protested against Illawarrra receiving the prize, upon the ground that he was incorrectly entered. After a stormy debate the stewards withheld the prize, and so the matter rests. With this single exception the Canterbury Races terminated satisfactorily to all concerned.

Racing at Canterbury continues, into the next decade.


24th MAY 1880.

GENERAL MEETING of Stewards, in Rising Sun Hotel, Canterbury, THIS EVENING, at 7, to make final arrangements. Full attendance requested. Public Meeting at 8 p.m.

NEIL W. QUIGG, Hon. Sec.

However by 1881 it may have been in decline for the advertisements for attractions other than horse races suggest a sense of desperation.


Great attraction. Seven important events. Foot race, greasy pole, and other sports. Splendid brass band engaged. ‘Buses leave King-street at 10 a.m.

At the end of the year all was revealed in this report.

1881/12/31. Canterbury Races.

The Canterbury races, which took place last Saturday, were but moderately attended, and resulted as follows:- Maiden Plate, Brownie; Shorts, Blacktracker; Hurry Scurry, Mystery; Canterbury Handicap, Brownie. The meeting terminated by Blacktracker winning a private match.

The present Canterbury races trace their beginings to a meeting held in January of 1884. As their history has been dealt with more than adequately by “They’re Racing at Canterbury” by Lesley Muir, and published by Canterbury and District Historical Society, there is little more to be said on the subject, apart from the course being only seven furlongs in length whilst the present course is over one and a half miles. “Change and Challenge,” A History of the Municipality of Canterbury,” by F.A. Larcombe also has a useful chapter on the subject.


Registered under A.J.C. Rules.

The OPENING HANDICAP, of 60 sovs., with a sweepstakes of 3 sovs. added; 6 furlongs.

The MIDSUMMER STAKES, of 40 sovs., with a sweepstakes of 2 sovs.

added; 1 mile.

The CANTERBURY PARK HANDICAP, of 100 sovs., with a sweepstakes of 5 sovs., and GOLD CUP, value 50 sovs., presented by Messrs. S.A. Stephen, W. H. Pigott, and H. Moses, Ms.L.A., added; 11/2 mile.

The SELLING RACE of 50 sovs., with sweep of 2 sovs. added ; 1 mile.

The VISITORS’ HANDICAP, of 50 sovs., with a sweep of 2 sovs. added; 11/4 mile.

Special trains to Ashfield.

Omnibuses meet all trains at Ashfield Station.

Course only one mile and a quarter from railway.

W.L DAVIS, Hon. Sec.

1884/1/12. Canterbury Races.

The only meeting of importance which requires the attention of racing folk is that of the newly-formed Canterbury Park. This little race-course is very pleasantly and picturesquely situated about six miles out of the metropolis and within a short distance of the Ashfield Railway Station. In writing of the initial gathering, I cannot help but praise the efforts of the executives in their endeavours to make it a popular one, and I hope to see them well rewarded by a good attendance. The weights have been issued, and for the Opening Handicap, of six furlongs, I like the chances of Emilius, Boniface, and Howlong. The Canterbury Park Handicap reads like a good thing for Jack of Clubs, Prima Donna, or Polestar, while the Visitors’ Handicap should provide a contest between Hypatia, Psrima Donna, and Exchange.

1884/1/17. Canterbury Races.

THERE is at present on view in the establishment of Mr. Evan Jones, jeweller, of Hunter-street, the cup presented by Messrs. S.A. Stephens, W.H. Pigott, and H. Moses, Ms.L.A., to be run for in the Canterbury Handicap on Saturday next. The cup is valued at 50 guineas, being of Norwegian design, such as the loving cup passed round by Odin among the heroes gathered in Walhalla. The cup itself is of solid gold, with three handles of bright silver. It bears on it the words “Canterbury Handicap, January 19, 1884,” circled by a wreath of grapes and vine leaves, and a space is left blank for the name of the winner to be inserted.

1884/1/21.Canterbury Races.




Patron: Hon. James White, M.L.C. Stewards: The Committee of the Canterbury Park Race Club. Judge: Hon. Richard Hill, M.L.C. Handicapper: Mr. J.A. Scarr. Starter: Mr. W. Gannon. Timekeeper: Mr. George Curtis. Clerk of the Course: Mr. J. Ashworth. Weigher: Mr. P.B. Whitfield. Hon. Secretary: Mr. W.L. Davis.

As was anticipated, the first venture of the Canterbury Park Race Club was a most decided success in every particular. The weather, though somewhat warm, was fine and clear, and the visitors by road and rail brought the attendance up to about 3500. Mr.J. De V. Lamb and the Hon. James White drove to the course in well-filled four-in-hand, and the road, which was in fair order, was very liberally patronised. The ordinary and special trains were crowded, and, as omnibuses were in waiting at the Ashfield station, no inconvenience was experienced in reaching the course, which is about a mile and a quarter from the station. The course was described as a miniature Randwick, for everything was in apple-pie order, and Messrs. Evans, Perry, Ashworth, Whitfield, and other well-known metropolitan officials were to be seen busily engaged assisting Mr. Davis (the secretary) and the other office-bearers. the grand stand, an engraving of which appeared in last Saturday’s Sydney Mail, was fully occupied, and the saddling paddock was crowded, and it is to be regretted that it cannot be extended. The bar and luncheon rooms under the grand stand were well patronised, but the luncheon was not up to the usual standard of those provided by Mr. Cripps, and some complaints were also heard concerning the quality of the liquids supplied. The Unity Fire Brigade Band played a variety of selections during the afternoon , and the scene was graced by the presence of the fair sex. The energetic exponents of the art of “monte” and other games of “chance” were refused admission to the ground, and everything passed off pleasantly. The top-dressing of the course was somewhat loose in places, but when it has time to settle down the running will be better than that of most provincial courses. Howlong and The Slave were backed in the paddock for the opening Handicap, but before the warning bell rang the former was scratched, and, as consequene, the layers of odds had the worst of figures as far as The Slave was concerned, and he left the enclosure first favourite at 7 to 4: but the cleverly arranged good thing failed to come off, for Boniface, going to the front at the fall of the flag, made all the running, and won rather easily from Bellbird and Uhlan. Only four starts for the Midsummer Stakes, for which, at the last Mars was most fancied; but after leading for three-quarters of a mile he stumbled, and then melted away. he came again in a half hearted way after entering the straight and finished second to Regulator, and it cannot be said that Roarty was hard upon him either with whip or spur, for upon returning to scale he had not a hair turned. Stockdale, Ascot, Coolabah, Needle, Gladiator, Spavatler, Favo, Howlong, The Slave, and Presto were withdrawn from the Canterbury Park Handicap, and Prima Donna had so many friends that 6 to 4 was the longest price obtainable about her, while on the strength of her private reputation Roquette held the position of second favourite. Boniface led for more than half the journey, when Prima Donna took up the running and carried it on to the hill at the entrance to the straight, where the weight told upon her, and Jack of Clubs and Roquette appeared at the front, but Polestar caught them at the distance and won easily from Tait, who came very fast at the end and was a little late in making his effort. The gold cup, value 50 sovs.. the gift of Messrs. S.S. Stephen, W. H. Pigott, and H. Moses, members for the district, was presented by Mr. Pigott to the trainer of Polestar, on behalf of the owner, and cheers were given for the winner and the donors. Parole and Bayard were most in favour for the Selling Race, but Fritz never gave anything a chance and won all the way. After Kelso had donned the colours, Prima Donna was scratched for the Visitors’ Handicap, and Hypatis was so freely supported that at the end odds had to be held on here. She received a severe kick at the post, and the start had to be delayed in order to give her time to recover. She kept too far away from her horses in the early part of the race, and failing to get up, Tait won a pretty and grandly ridden race by a short head from Roquette, while Hypatis, though not placed by the judge, was a neck away third.The following is an account of each race.

THE OPENING HANDICAP, of 60 sovs., with a sweepstakes of 3 sovs. each for starters added. Second horse, 15 sovs. from the prize. Distance 6 furlongs.

Mr. Herbert’s b g Boniface, by John Bull-Young Baroness, 6 years, 8st. 3lb. (Hanley) 1

Mr. G. Fagan’s b m Bellbird, 4 years, 6st. 12lb. (Kelso) 2

Mr. T. Shore ..B g Uhlan, 5yrs, 7st 6lb (Nicholson) 3

Mr. E. McCarthy’s b g The Slave, 5 years, 7st. 6lb (Ellis) 0

Mr. T.J. Frost’s ch g Exchange, aged, 7st. 2lb. (Milne) 0

Betting: 7 to 4 v. The Slave; 3 to 1 each v. Uhlan and Bellbird; 5 to 1 v. Boniface.

As soon as they got going Boniface ran to the front, and led down the hill and along the back of the course by two lengths, followed by Uhlan and Bellbird, with the other three lengths off. The son of John Bull was never caught, and won cleverly by three lengths from Bellbird and Uhlan, who had a neck between them, and then after an interval of three lengths came The Slave, followed by exchange. Time 1 minute 20 seconds.

THE MIDSUMMER STAKES, of 40 sovs., with a sweepstakes of 2 sovs. each for starters added; for all maiden horses at time of entrance. Penalties for winning after entrance:- Once, 7lb.; twice or more, 10lb. Second horse 10 sovs. from the prize. Distance, 1 mile.

Mr. A. P. Pidcock’s b c Regulator, by Kelpie-Rosalie, 3 years, 8st 4lb.

(W. Raynor) 1

Mr. H.Lodge na br c Mars, 3 years, 8st. 4lb. (J. Roarty) 2

Mr. W. Cosgrove’s b cr br c Combadello, 2 years, 6st. 8lb. (Nicholson) 3

Mr. H.M.S. Cox’s ch f Lady Temple, 2 years, 6st. 8lb. (Lamond) 0

Betting: 6 to 4v Mars, 2 to 1 v. Regulator, 4 to 1 v. any other.

Mars jumped off with an advantage of a length; while he increased to two when passing the stand. At the back of the course he appeared to have it all his own way, but tripped when going up the hill, and Regulator headed him before reaching the home turn, and holding his own, won comfortably by three lengths. Combadello was four lengths off third, and the well-bred Lady temple was beaten off. time 1 minute 54 seconds.

CANTERBURY PARK HANDICAP, of 100 sovs., with a sweepstakes of 5 sovs. each for starters, and a gold cup value 50 sovs., presented by Messrs. S.A. Stephen, W.H. Pigott, and H.Moses, Ms.L.A., added. Second horse, 20 sovs. from the prize. 11/2 mile.

Mr. Thomas Small’s b h Polestar, by Warlike, aged, 8st.4lb. (Gallagher) 1

Mr. D. Nicholson’s g g Tait, aged, 6st. 10lb. (Nicholson) 2

Mr. S.W. Knight’s br h Jack of Clubs, 5 years, 7st. (Ellis) 3

Mr. T. Sampson’s br m Prima Donna, aged, 8st 2lb. (Kelso) 0

Mr. H. Herbert’s b g Boniface, 6 years, 7st. 5lb., including 7lb. penalty (Hanley) 0

Mr. G. Osborne’s bl f Roquette, 3 years, 6st. 2lb. (Milne) 0

Betting: 6 to 4 v.Prima Donna, 3 to 1 v. Roquette, 5 to 1 each v. Jack of clubs and Tait, 6 to 1 v. Polestar, 10 to 1 v. Boniface.

Mr.Gannon lowered his flag to a capital start, and Boniface, shooting to the front, led down the hill and along the back of the course by a couple of lengths, attended by Jack of Clubs, who was the same distance in advance of Prima Donna, with the others, whipped in by Polestar, five lengths away. Boniface held his own up the hill; round the turn , and into the straight, and showed the way past the stand at a very solid pace, Jack of Clubs and Prima Donna next, and two lengths clear of Roquette and Polestar, with Tait last. Prima Donna then assumed the command, and rattled down the hill with an advantage of two lengths, which she increased to four at the far side of the course. She drew further away at the far corner, but the hill stopped her, and Jack of Clubs joining her .. led into the straight, with Roquette hard upon him, but at the distance Polestar ran to the front as if the others had stopped, and won easily by three lengths, while Tait, coming with a wet sail, cut down the others in the run home, and finished second. Jack of Clubs was a length from Tait, third, and two lengths from him came Prima Donna and Roquette, with Boniface, pulling up twenty lengths off last. (Time, 2 minutes, 45 seconds.

The time of 2 minutes 45 seconds for a mile and a half does not compare well with the 1 minute 37 seconds which three year old fillies are capable of over the longer distance of 1600 metres, at the present day Randwick.

THE SELLING RACE,of 50 sovs., with a sweepstakes of 3 sovs. each for starters added. The winner to be sold by auction for 100 sovs. Weight for age: 7lb. allowed on each reduction of 25 sovs. on selling price down to nil, 1 mile.

Mr. J.L.Brown’s b g Fritz, by … -Wild Wave, nil, 5 years, 6st. 13lb. (Ellis) 1

Mr. Geo. Fagan’s bl h Isonomy, nil, 4 years, 7st. (Bourke) 2

Mr. J. Cook .. Br g Parole, nil, … years, 6st. 13 lb. (Nicholson) 3

Mr. J. Abraham’s b c Bayard, £50, 3 years, 7st. 4lb. (Kelso) 0

Betting: Even on Parole, 6 to 4 v. Bayard, 3 to 1 v. Isonomy, 4 to 1 v. Fritz.

Bayard was quickest, on his legs, but was at once pulled back last, and Fritz, going to the front, was never caught, and won easily by four lengths from Isonomy, who beat Parole and Bayard, with a head between them, by two lengths for second place. The winner was put up for auction, and knocked down for £85.

THE VISITORS’ HANDICAP, of 50 sov., with a sweepstakes of 2 sovs. each for starters added. Second horse, 10 sovs. from the prize. distance, 11/4 mile.

Mr. D. Nicholson’s g g Tait, aged, 7 st. (Nicholson) 1

Mr. George. Osborne’s bl f Roquette, 3 years, 6st. 7lb. 2

Mr. J. Barry’s g m Hypatis, aged, 9st. 3lb. (Norton) 0

Mr. W. Gannon’s ch h Honest John, 5 years, 7st.7lb.(Ellis) 0

Mr. T.J. Frost’s chg Exchange, aged, 6st. 10lb. F. Smith) 0

Betting: 5 and 6 to 4 on Hypatis, 3 to 1 v. Tait, 4 to 1 v. Roquette, 10 to 1 v. any other.

The signal was given to a bad start, Tait and Hypatis jumping away clear of their horses. The mare was soon pulled back last, but Tait, making the most of his advantage, led for a quarter of a mile, when he gave place to Roquette and Honest John, and the pair carried on the running to the home turn, where the whole field closed up, and a great race ensued all the way up the straight, resulting in favour of Tait by a head, while Roquette only beat Hypatis by a short half-neck for second place. Time, …20 seconds.

The general settling over the late Canterbury Park meeting will take place at Tattersall’s this evening.

The right to the gates and other racecourse properties for the Sydney Turf club meeting on Anniversary Day will be disposed of by Mr. G. Kiss at noon to-day.

Returning to Moorefields, it is not until October of 1888 that things got underway.



Patron, The Hon. John Luckey; under the management of the stewards of the M.R.C.- Messrs. J.H.Want, M.L.A., W. Davis, M.L.A., J.H. Carruthers, M.L.A., F. Farnell, M.L.A., H.Dawson, M.L.A., J.Williams, M.L.A., J. McLaughlin, J.P., W.G. Judd, J.P. W.Blake.L.J. Harnett, F.J. McCarthy, P.Moore, G.G. Kiss, G.C. Waldron; judge, Mr, J.B. Olliffe; handicapper, Mr. J.A. Scarr;starter, Mr. J. Hagerty; time-keeper, Mr. T. Alcock; clerk of scales, Mr. Charles Perry; clerk of course, Mr. James Astworth; Mr. John Jolly, secretary.

The opening reunion of the recently-formed Moorefield Racing Club took place under most favourable circumstances on Saturday…… In adition to the ordinary traffic on the line a couple of special trains were laid on for Kogarah, and the large contingent of metropolitan sporting folk severely taxed the available means of transit, the carriages being densely thronged on both trips; but excellent time was made on the run out, the eight miles having been covered in 13minutes. The racecourse is situated on the Moorefields Estate….and the grand stand is about 400 yards south of the Kogarah railway station. The… estate occupies a charming position on the eastern slope of Kogarah heights, and the view from the grand stand embraces a magnificent stretch of well-timbered and undulating country …. while the placid waters of Botany Bay and the hills in the vicinity of La Perouse are the most striking features of the south-easterly outlook. the course, which is seven furlongs in length is of the usual shape, something similar to that at Canterbury Park, with rather a sharp turn leading out of the straight, a pretty stiff incline from the middle of the back stretch and round the far corner, while the straight run home of nearly two furlongs is all on the down grade. There is however, ample room for an extension of the course on the eastern side through some marsh land…..which when completed, will provide a mile and a-quarter course, and the sharp sweeps …will be avoided…. A handsome and commodious grand stand, with refreshment bar and luncheon saloon underneath, has been erected on the crest of the hill in the saddling paddock…The top portion of the paddock at the western end of the grand stand is well wooded with indigenous trees, which afford ample shelter from the rays of the sun, while the seats and tables necessary for picnic parties are provided….telegraphic communication has not yet been established with the course, but a couple of messengers carried the press and public despatches to and from Kogarah station during the afternoon. The formation of the course, erection of buildings… cost close to £5000…. and after such an outlay the attendance, which numbered over 3000 persons, on Saturday, must have been most satisfactory. A nicely-arranged programme of music was played during the afternoon by the members of the Coldstream Band.

OPENING HANDICAP of 75 sovs.-6 furlongs and 50 yards.

Mr. W. McCallum r.s. b g Clement by Julian Avenal-Clementina 6 years, 6st. 9lb (McAuliffe) 1

Mr. W. Kelso’s ch g Recruit, aged 7st. 3lb. (Campbell) 2

Mr. John Moore n s b g Here’s Luck, aged, 8st. 3lb. (M.Riley) 3

KOGARAH STAKES, a handicap of 65 sovs.; for all horses that have never won an advertised prize of the value of 45 sovs. at the time of running-7 furlongs.

Mr. J. Gough’s b g Scatterfield, by Moorethorpe-Colleen Bawn, 5 years. (F. Cleal) 1

Mr. C. Page n s b h Falsetto, 4 years, 7st. 3lb. (J. Noud) 2

Mr. E. Key’s b g Thetis, 3 years, 7st. 7lb. (Tulton) 3

THE MOOREFIELD HANDICAP, of 110 sovs. ; second horse to receive 10 sovs. from the prize.- 1 mile.

Mr. E. Howe’s ch m Butterfly by Crown Prince-Sugar Plum, 5 years, 7st. 6lb. (J.Noud) 1

Mr. W. Kelso’s ch g The Miner, 5 years, 7 st. (McAuliffe) 2

AUCTION STAKES, of 75 sovs., for three-year -olds and upwards; weight for age. Winner to be sold for 100 sovs.-6 furlongs.

Mr. W. Kelso’s br g Pawnee, by Beauclere-Pearly Jane (nil),5 years 6st. 3lb(mcAuliffe) 1

Mr. G.A. Hilly’s b m Dora (£25), aged, 7st. 4lb. (Deane) 2

Mr. A.T. Steenson’s ch g Omeo (£25), aged, 7st. 6lb. (J. Thompson) 3

STEWARDS’ MILE, a welter handicap, of 75 sovs.; lowest weight 8st. 7lb.-1 mile.

Mr. D. Barnett’s b g Teddy Yuille, by Anteros-Atalanta, 5 years, 9st. 7lb. (E. Thompson) 1

Mr. E. Key’s b g Thetis, 3 years, 9st. 3 lb. (Norton) 2

Mr. E.S. Rowe’s blk h Resolve, 6 years, 11st. 7lb. (M. Gallagher) 3

The Brighton Racecourse fronted the northern side of Bay St and extended back to about the line of the present streets of Moate Ave, Gordon St, Francis Ave. Although not a large course large it was ample for pony, galloway and trotting events and was even used for handicap races over two miles. The inaugural meeting of the ‘Brighton Racing Club’ was held on Monday, 16th December 1895.


The opening meeting of the Brighton Racing Club took place yesterday, and attracted over 1000 persons to the newly-formed racecourse near Lady Robinson’s Beach. The weather was far from pleasant, and a hot wind, that raised plenty of dust, was not conducive to enjoyment. the arrangements at the trysting-place were very good, and for an initial reunion the officials carried out their duties in a fairly effective manner. A large field of 16 took part in the Time Handicap Trot, but a number of the competitors were lacking in condition. The event fell to Mr. H. figg’s handsome mare Lady Era, a daughter of Era, who won comfortably. The finish for the Flying Handicap brought about a protest for interference, the winner, Message, having crossed Orthona as they entered the home-stretch, but the stewards dismissed the objection. When the horses returned to the paddock after the final event, P.Hayes, the rider of the winner, was called before the stewards to account for the fact that he left the starting-post and came past the stand after the horses had been marshalled for the contest, and for so doing he was disqualified for one month.

As can be seen from the hadicaps given to the horses competing at Brighton in January 1899, races were short, no more than five furlongs (Five eighths of a mile) apart from the trotting race which is of two miles. The trotting race was handicapped on time to start, whereas the other pony races, were given weights to carry.


The following are the handicaps for the trotting, pony, and galloway races to be held at Brighton to-day:-

Time Handicap Trot. 2miles.- Uranus, scratch. Huon Prince, scratch: Tiger, scatch; Doris, 10 seconds behind; Streak o’ luck, 10 behind; Old Tom, 18 behind; Roudan, 20 behind; Charlie, 25 behind; Favourite, 28 behind; Nancy, 40 behind; Economy, 48 behind.

Beach Handicap (14.0 welter), 4 furlongs 30 yards.- Dart 8st. 10lb; Milano, 8st 3lb; Kialla, 8st 11lb; Dobly, 7st 12lb; Lottie, 6st 12 lb.

Tempe Handicap (13.1), 31/2 furlongs.-Blue and White, 7st 10lb; Yettonga, 7st 10lb;Cheshunt, 7st. 9lb; Belle of New York, 7st 7lb; Lady Mulgrave, 7st 5lb; Picture, 7st 3lb; Fritz, 7st 3lb; Patience, 6st. 9lb.

Rockdale Handicap (14.2), 4 furlongs 30yards.- Red Rose, 8st 7lb; Sook, 8st: Queen May, 7st 9lb; Curiosity, 7st 9lb; Tomina, 7st 4lb; Unice, 7st 3lb; Clotaire, 6st 7lb.

Brighton Handicap, (15.0), 5 furlongs 10 yards.- Walter, 8st 13lb; Blossom, 8st 7lb;, Prarie Boy, 8st 4lb; Lex, 7st 9lb; Silver 11., 7st 8lb; Refuse, 6st 8lb; Baron 6st 7lb.

This concludes 19th century horse racing in the Cooks River area.


‘The English country gentleman galloping after a fox – the unspeakable in full pursuit of the uneatable.’

Oscar Wilde.

The quote may well be true of England, but is it true of 19th century N.S.W.?

In July of 1820 we read:

Sporting Intelligence – On Tuesday last the fox hounds threw off near Ultimo House, the seat of Doctor Harris. After drawing the covers in this demesne and not finding, they tried the Glebe grounds, where they put up a very fine doe. She took head towards Birch Grove, crossed the Parramatta road near Annandale, making for Cook’s River; passing through Canterbury, re-crossed the road at Petersham; at length, being closely pursued, she took the soil across the Bay from Colonel O’Connel’s estate to Ultimo Point, the hounds giving tongue and swimming after her. After pursuing her some time she again took the soil, pursued by the hounds into Cockle Bay; but here, we reget to say the hunt was foiled by some fishermen (who were in a boat) rowing after the deer, and taking her in spite of all the hunters could say; they being on the beach, and the hounds within a few yards. We are sorry to find that Gentlemen are thus impeded in the few sports which this country affords; and we caution all persons from interfering in future with them, as we learn these Gentlemen are determined to punish to the utmost rigour of the law any persons who may either shoot at or entrap any game they may be in pursuit of.

The huntsmen are in pursuit of a female deer, not a fox.

Dr. Harris, the former surgeon’s mate in the New South Wales Corps, an Irishman, born in Moneymore, County Londonderry, studied medicine at the university of Edinburgh. The Doctor is credited with importing the first deer, of the Indian spotted variety, into the Colony of N.S.W. in 1803. It is not clear as to whether Doctor Harris participated in the event, or indeed whether he was a ‘gentleman’.

The attitude of the huntsmen in being deprived of their quarry was still evident in 1836 when Alexander Brodie Spark, of Tempe House on the Cook’s River, recorded in his diary –

The Venison we dined on Sunday was from a fine Buck that Willie the boatman found entangled in the mud of the river (Cook’s River). All hands were called and the Deer was secured. On returning home I found possesion disputed by some men who were strangers to me, and who were about carrying him off in a Cart. I quickly rescued the prize, but the animal had been so much injured that he died during the night. Today I received notice from a lawyer that I must make restitution or stand the consequences.

Spark, a merchant, described by some as “an exclusive” and often to be seen at Government House Levees, did not escape the wrath of these sportsmen.

'Tempe House' on the banks of Cooks River

The desperate and pathetic desire among some within the colony to identify with England is evident from this newspaper report of June 1829.

Tantivy! Tantivy! Hark away! Hark away! this is the season for the huntsmen who wander throught the wild woods “and chase the kangaroo”. The kangaroo approach nearer the town at this season. This season has another advantage to recommend it. When the grass is slippery, the kangaroo run not with that astonishing swiftness for which they are remarkable. About fourteen miles hence, in a part of the Country designated “The Little Forest,” there is fine game to be had, with a couple of dogs and a sure piece. It lies to the south of Sydney, and to proceed there you take the Cumberland road, which leads to Cook’s River. This you cross by means of a ferry-boat, and having reached the opposite side of the river, you can, if you require it, obtain refreshment at a house near hand, where you will receive instructions how to proceed on the rest of your journey. But at Botany, on what is called the “Seven mile Beach,” there are plenty wallaby and patteemellon for “cockney sportsmen.” which may be caught without much trouble. If however, you should take the short cut to Botany, be careful that you keep a respectable distance from everything in the shape of a bog. We give this caution from experience, as a friend of ours got into a strange predicament last season, by not paying attention to our advice. For trusting to his own foresight, he advanced boldly forward, poor soul, till he could advance no further. Sure enough he was caught in a bog, where he remained bellowing like a calf for the space of two hours, when he found himself on firm ground again.

Whether or not, this activity required a horse, is not clear, but its style would certainly lead you to think that such was the case.

In spite of the huntsman’s quarry being a kangaroo the desire to plant ‘Merry England’ in the Great South Land is evident in the use of “Tantivy! Tantivy” (which means either a brisk gallop or the sound of a hunting horn).

The ‘Little Forest’, across the Cook’s River, is most likely what was to become Lord’s Bush, then Gannon’s Forest and is today’s Hurstville. ‘Seven Mile Beach’ stretched between the entrances of the Cook’s and George’s Rivers, from the present day Kyeemagh to Dolls Point.

In September of 1833 –

Sporting Intelligence HUNTING – This morning a party of eight to ten gentlemen start for Cook’s River district, where deer and kangaroo at present abound; they are accompanied by dogs of the best breed in the Colony, and intend to make the sport last some few days, not having forgot that most indispensible of all indispensibles, a pair of suttlers, who are well provided with grub and exhilirating liquors necessary on such occasions.

A “Suttler (sutler)” is a person who follows an army and sells provisions to the soldiers.

Sir Charles Augustus FitzRoy, Governor of New South Wales from 1846 till 1855, hunted. He was the second son of the third duke of Grafton, schooled at Harrow, and commisioned in the Horse Guards at 16 and fought at Waterloo. Noted in the Australian Dictionary of Biography for his vigour, his hunting perhaps owes more to a military carreer than an aristocratic background.In 1850 we find him in our area. On the 8th of June this notice appeared.

Hunting Appointments.

Mr. Fitz Roy’s Hounds will meet on Wednesday, at Cook’s River Dam; and on Saturday at One Tree Hill, at 7 A.M.

On 12 July we read –

MR. FITZ ROY’S hounds have shown very good sport on the two last days of their meeting. – ……..

They found in the Rose Bay swamp, and ran at an excellent pace and with good scent, over the high ground to Waverley, at the back of Waverley House, across by the head of Bondi, then to the right across all the country towards Newtown, losing the “Dingo” in the long swamp near the Veteran’s Grants, towards the “Bay.” The distance run was nearly nine miles.

On Wednesday (yesterday) morning, the meet was at Cook’s River dam, a very good field, about twenty-three in number met at the appointed hour, (quarter past eight), and after a little delay – during which divers Manilas were smoked – and mayhap, a nip or a glass of beer just to steady the nerves, was imbibed at host Gannon’s. His Excellency Sir Charles Fitz Roy, accompanied by the members of his family, drove up in his phaeton, their hunters being at the appointed place already.

The hounds were forthwith thrown into the thick covert at the Cook’s River Road, and found, and went away at once at an excellent pace through rather a bad country for the first mile.

A boggy place at a rail, with a deep and soft bottom beyond, caused a little struggling at the start,…but a check brought head and tail together, and as the morning was well advanced, it was feared that he was lost.

“I think it is back,” cries a sportsman, galloping up at the check.“I beg your pardon,” says Captain Fitz Roy,“it is forward, I think, I don’t believe he could have doubled back from the country we have been over.” Captain Fitz Roy was right – a rather longcast forward – and they hit it off beautifully; burst away again at a slapping pace, across some impracticable country, with just enough fencing to make it lively – one horse came down on his side in crossing a soft bottom – and an ugly drop into the Canterbury road with a nasty place to get out on the other side caused some little “craming” hereabouts; but those of the right sort got “to them;” they crossed the country between the Canterbury road and the Liverpool road, then away towards Hand’s , on the Parramatta road, but doubled to the left, when the hounds ran into him, and turned up gallantly, in an open field.

The pace was at times excellent. The time from the first check to the finish, exactly thirty minutes – making about forty-five minutes from the find. About sixteen out of the twenty-three found their way to the death, when the whoo-hoop was heard through the woods – a select seven or eight having gone the whole way with the hounds.

It was a very satisfactory morning’s sport, and not a hound was astray at the end. We understand they meet on Saturday next at Hand’s, at half-past seven.

The Cook’s River Dam was in the same position as today’s bridge on the Princes Highway at Tempe. As the red fox was not introduced to Australia until at least 1855, they appear to be hunting the native dingo. Gannon’s Inn was on the site of what is now the Tempe Bus Depot. Michael Gannon and his sons were very supportive of all sporting activity within the local area. It was a favoured spot for imbibing before attending, prize fights on and beyond Cooks River.

‘Hand’s’ was most probably a hotel on Parramatta Road. In 1850 a publican’s licence was granted to John Gilder Hand of Burwood.

In June of 1874 a somewhat humane kangaroo hunt took place at Ashfield,

A Meeting took place on Wednesday afternoon, the 1st instant at Ashfield. A great number of persons were present to see the start, and amongst those who intended to follow we noticed:- The Master on Walkover; Mr. E. Terry, on Transit: Captain Airey, on Vagabond; Mr. Morriset, on Mr. Want’s Vagabond; Mr. J. Lamb on Counsellor; Mr. Wynne, Junior, on Zara; Master H. Lamb on Rifleman; Mr. G. Hill, on Gaylad; Mr. R.F. Pickering on Mr. Bradley’s Rough Diamond; Mr. E. Town on Rocket; Mr. A.G. Bray on The Pearl; Mr. Macquarie, on Darkie; Mr. G.Long, on Don Carlos; Mr. H Smith, on Receipt; two strangers on Fisherman and Trump; and the whips, Mason and Ryan on Shakespeare and Telegraph. Mr. G.F. Want and Mr. T.S. Clibborn were also present, but as they were accompanied by ladies they did not take a prominent part in the proceedings. The hounds threw off near Mr. Clissold’s and going away at a great pace, led across two or three paddocks, and some good three – railers were thrown behind, over one of which Rocket came down, and getting away, left Mr. Town to walk back. A little further on they crossed the road, and four fair fences were nicely disposed of by the wearers of scarlet coats and a number of outsiders who joined in. After a slight delay the hounds again settled down to their work, and getting on the scent of the kangaroo, dashed away into the thick scrub, and it looked as though there would be a fine run; but the game, finding himself hardly pressed, crossed Cook’s River, near Flood’s Paddock, and the fun was stopped. At length the hounds picked up the scent once again, and, after a short but sharp spin through thick scrub, ran into the kangaroo. Fortunately, Mr. Bowes was close to them, and assisted by others suceeded in saving him. Several ladies followed nearly all the way.

Mr. Clissold’s original house at Ashfield was ‘Mountjoy’.

Interested in all things equine, Clissold was one of the prime-movers behind the establishment of Canterbury Racecourse.In 1868 Frederick Clissold set up a wool washing plant on the bank of the river opposite the Sugar Mill at Canterbury.Within a month Marrickville had complained of the pollution further down stream and the proprietor’s were compelled to install charcoal filters. Captain Airey, may well have been promoted to Major in command of the New South Wales Artillery, his address in 1875 being John Dawes battery, George St, North. Edward Terry (grandson of the celebrated ex convict and “Botany Bay Rothchild” Samuel Terry) was Master of the Sydney Hunt Club, member of the Australian Jockey Club and Mayor of Ryde 1871-73, 1875-76 and 1899.

John de Villiers Lamb, was merchant and pastoralist, a prominent official of the Australian Jockey Club, a renowned amateur whip, and cross country rider. Rowland Ferrers Pickering was the sporting editor of the Sydney Morning Herald and the Sydney Mail.Thomas Strettel Clibborn, an Irishman, became the Secretary and Treasurer of the Australian Jockey Club in 1873 .

The hunt that met in April of 1883 was even more humane, in that they appeared to have chased after an aniseed scented drag.


The Northern Hunt Club hounds met at Burwood on Saturday afternoon last to open the season. In response to the hearty invitation of that most enthusiastic huntsman, Mr. Edward Terry, a very large muster put in an appearance at the railway station, and when a move was made towards Cook’s River, where the hounds were to throw off, the cavalcade consisted of about 80 or 100 horsemen, while the rear was brought up by the carriages of Mr. Terry and Mr. E.E. Jones, gigs, buggies, and vehicles of every description. Of course, the latter had to keep to the road, and unfortunately the trail was so laid that the occupants of the different traps obtained but a very indifferent view of the proceedings. About 300 persons were present, and amongst those who intended to go as straight as their horses would carry them were the Master, Mr. E. Terry, on the grand-looking Lord of the Forest; the huntsman Harry Lodge, on Zoe; Mr. T. Cosgrove, senr., on his great jumper, Killarney: Mr. R.F. Pickering, on the clever steeplechase mare, Lady Power:Mr. W. Cosgrove, jnr., on Prophet: Mr. James Cosgrove on Iago; Mr. John Cosgrove, on Mazeppa: Mr. Bartlett, on Prince; Mr. T. Ranch, on Jona: Mr. J. Hogan, on Othello: Mr. T. Robertson, on Hector; Mr. W.S. Hayes, on his clever little chestnut duke: Mr. T. Salter, on Commodore: Mr. Oxley, on Coogee: Mr. T. Salter, on Commodore: Mr. Oxley, on Coogee: Mr. S. Nott, on Rocket: Mr. S. Thornthwaite, on Prince: Mr Treb…t on Heroine: Mr. Dransfield, on a useful looking bay: Mr. F. Thornthwaite, on Chieftain: Mr. G. Mason on Neddy McCarthy: Mr. H. Archer, on Eva: Mr. Barton on Sunbeam: Mr. J. J. Grey on Kei…. : Mr. C. Parnell on Frolic: Mr. J. Abbott, on Mormon: Mr. W. Holborrow on a brown: Mr. E. Martineer, on a neat-looking horse by Saunterer: Mr. L. Martineer, on Vril: and the two steeplechase riders, W. Chiffney and T. Lucky, on Cygney and Langar, respectively. While girths were being tightened and other preparations made, McCrow, the whip, on Martin, stole away with the drag. Immediately after crossing Cook’s River the soul-stirring music burst forth, and the hounds streamed away at a great pace through a thick scrub, which entailed a lot of rough riding, and many who were not used to timber were thus early last in the crowd. Two small fences were jumped, and then, owing to some horsemen having followed Merlin and crossed the trail, the hounds were thrown out, and a check took place, which allowed those who had followed the road to come up. Here Killarney,Cygnet and Lady Power treated the spectators to some sensational jumping in and out of an orchard, and then Cygnet, ridden by W. Chiffney, performed this wonderful feat of clearing a tall paling fence, which must have been every inch of 6 feet. His owner, Mr. J. Driscoll, was so pleased with him that he declined to risk him further over the rough country, and sent him home to wait for better things. It certainly was the greatest jump our representative ever saw in the hunting field, and those who missed it lost a treat. After a slight delay the scent was again picked up, and for the next couple of miles the country was more open, and some pretty fencing was done by the leaders, while the great majority waited till a top rail was knocked out, and then went pall-mell for the middle one. A big solid set of rails then put out a good many, and when another farm had been crossed, the first flight was composed of Killarney, Lord of the Forest, Zoe, Lady Power, and Mr. Barton (on Sunbeam or Chieftain), who negotiated five fair fences in close order, some distance clear of Duke, Eclipse, Mazeppa, Vrill, Hector, Prophet, langar, Coogee, Neddy McCarty, and four or five others whom we had not time to recognise, the rest of the run was over fair hunting country, but, owing to the trail having been run over, several checks occurred, and after a number of farms and paddocks had been crossed, the run terminated at Mr. Salter’s residence at Gannon’s Forest, so that the spin extended between eight and nine miles. The horses that went straight, and did not miss a fence, were Killarney, who led most of the way, and was admirably ridden by his hatless rider, Lord of the Forest, Zoe, Lady Power, Duke, Keilpen, Mr. Barton’s mount Coogee, Vril, Hector Langar, and maybe three or four others, who were in the wake of the first flight. Soon after starting Othello put his foot in a hole and rolled over, and his rider’s left foot remaining in the stirrup-iron he was dragged some distance and had a very narrow escape from death or serious injury. Fortunately he was not much hurt, but the horse, a dark brown, got away with the saddle and bridle, and up till late last evening nothing was heard of him. Should some good natured fellow find him, his owner will be glad to see him at Cosgrove’s Bazaar, Castlereagh-street. Lady Power burst both girths after landing over the fourth last fence, and her rider, saddle, and all had a harmless roll on the grass. With the true spirit of a sportsman, the rider of Vril immediately handed over one of his girths, and the little grey was soon again among the leaders. Mr. Robertson, on Hector, had to dismount for his hat, and was captured by an enraged farmer, who made him prisoner until a promise was made to pay for a broken rail or two. Iago lost his place in the run owing to his rider good naturedly stopping to assist Mr. Hogan, who got a shaking through the fall of Othello: but he made up his ground well, and arrived in time to partake of the hospitality of Mr. Salter. The next run is to take place at the village of Ryde, at 3 o’clock on Saturday next, and on the following Saturday the hounds will meet at the Parramatta railway station, at 3.30p.m. One of the hounds Lazarus, was lost, and Mr. Terry will be obliged to anyone who may send him home. Another was ridden over, and it is to be regretted that when check took place several riders used to ride over, instead of after, them. Harry Lodge had the hounds in fair trim, and he deserves credit for the way in which he hunted them in the thick scrub in the early part of the run.

The Master was once again Edward Terry. Thomas Cosgrove had a horse bazaar and was an auctioneer at 182 Castlereagh St.

James Cosgrove was a surveyor at 78 Pitt St. Thomas Salter a public notary of Hunter St.Thomas Dransfield of Yarrow Cottage Burwood was by 1887 a sheep and cattle salesman of King St. Is Mr. Barton, Edmund, the Speaker of the Legislative Assembly at that time who became the first prime minister of Australia? Alexander McCrow was a butcher of Lower Campbell St.

A similar event took place on 7th August of 1894. It seems to have been the fashion among locals to witness the spectacle.


The trysting place for members of the Sydney Hunt Club on Saturday was at Enfield, and the weather being favourable there was a good muster of followers. The members present were:- Mr. Cope (master) on Tudor, Mr. Lenahan on Satan, Mr. Paterson on Ryebuck, Mr. Mullins on Oofty, Mr. Bucknell on Richochet, Mr. Scarvell on Blue Peter, Mr. Dodds on Mariner, Mr. Guiliana on Lorna Doone, Mr. Francis on a chestnut, and Mr. Hilly on a bay, Miller (huntsman) on Chieftain, and the whip on Harold. Among those present were – Mrs Foster, Mrs. Smith, Mr. and Mrs. Wynne, Mrs. McConnochie and party, Miss M. Bowden-Smith, Miss Cope, Mrs. Bucknall and party, Miss du Vernet, Mrs Frank McDonald, Mrs Lenahan and party, Mr. Deane, Miss Ash, Mr.and Mrs. Hughes, mr. and Mrs. Ramaciotti, Mr. Arthur Allen, Mr. W. Dodds, Mr. Lawler and party, Mr. C. Cowper, Miss Cox, Miss Leake, Mr. Brunton, and party, Mr. Rolin, Mr. Rolin, Mr. Muddle, and many others.The throw-off took place a short distance from the Liverpool-road, and across nice hunting country towards Saltpan Creek, crossing the Punchbowl-road and Cook’s River near the bridge, thence through the bush towards Belmore, where a short check was called, and the run was continued to Morar, the residence of Mr. F. McDonald, the straightgoers, including some ladies, taking the fence at the lower portion of the grounds, while those who were not so well mounted went round by the avenue. At Morar the members of the club and their friends were treated with customary hospitality, and the outing may be classed among the most enjoyable of the season.

William Cope, lived on Campbell St. North Sydney. Born in 1852, he was at various times, a solicitor, soldier and pastoralist. Captain of the Sydney Rowing Club and from 1890-94, master of the Sydney Hunt Club, at Randwick, in 1893 he won the Intercolonial Hunt Club Steeplechase. Mr. Guiliani was most likely a resident of Ryde, while Frederick Hilly lived at Enfield. Amongst the witnesses to the event were Messrs. Ramaciotti of Ashfield, the solicitors Rolin of Strathfield, and Muddle of either Ashfield or Strathfield, which suggests it may have been a spectacle the locals delighted in.

Confining our reporting to events that include “Cooks River,” diminishes our ability to identify those who went hunting. Whether or not, Oscar Wilde’s classic statement holds good within this Australian sample is something that the reader can decide for himself. Can the assortment of horse auctioneers, cattle salesmen, a sporting journalist, the owner of a woolwashing plant and commissioned officers be considered ,”gentlemen? Not only are some of the names not “British,” but many are “Irish.”

There is an absence of people from “Cook’s River”, that is the St. Peters, Tempe and Canterbury area, even the sporting and Irish Gannons.

They, as you are about to discover in our next chapter on pugilism, had other preoccupations.