Horse racing at the Sydney Cricket Ground

November 6, 2017

Did you know that horse racing was conducted at the Sydney Cricket Ground 150 years ago this year, in the same decade that the first Melbourne Cup was run in the 1860s?

The SCG was established specifically as a cricket ground, although it soon became a venue for other sports: rugby, tennis, athletics, baseball and cycling among them.

There was even a racecourse attached to the ground briefly in the mid-1860s, around the same time as the first Melbourne Cup was run in 1861.

The SCG was known then as the Military and Civil Ground, and the races were staged by the Military and Civil Cricket Club, which was based at the ground.

It seems the course was officially used for only a few months in 1867, but it did get mentions in the press.

In August 1867, the Sydney Morning Herald said races of up to 1.5miles had been staged on ‘the recently formed course at the back of Victoria Barracks.’ Colonel John Richardson, who was in charge of the barracks, was a race steward.

A week later Bell’s Life said: ‘Since the first races the course has undergone considerable improvement, and it is now a very fine piece of ground for a trial of speed … the heavy sand requires the nags to be held together.’

The location of the racecourse is not known, but it may have been open, sandy area between Driver Avenue and Anzac Parade.
In December 1867, the Sydney Mail reported that the Military and Civil club had just staged a race meeting at Randwick ‘instead of on the club grounds at the rear of Victoria Barracks as formerly.’

From then on, the races would be held at Randwick.

Love our History. Love Our SCG.

Source: Phil Derriman’s SCG Members’ diary, SCG Museum volunteers and staff
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