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Connections between the ATC, racing and wars

April 25, 2021

Connections between the Australian Turf Club, racing and wars can be found as far back as 1900.

The Bushmen’s Contingent Race Meeting was held on 14 February 1900 at Randwick Racecourse. Raced under the management of the Australian Jockey Club, the complimentary race meeting was held to send off soldiers to the second Boer War. One of the races on the programme was the Our Boys’ Plate, for “horses selected for service, and to be ridden by members of the Bushmen’s Contingent”.

During World War One, staff and industry members served their country on the front, while those left at home supported the home front. The AJC decided to put any unclaimed totalisator dividends and other race day profits into the war effort. Red Cross Societies, the Citizens War Chest Fund, the Central Sandbag Committee and the Regimental Comforts Fund were some of many to receive donations. Sir Adrian Knox, AJC Chairman and foundation member of the NSW branch of the Red Cross, travelled to Egypt with Sir Norman Brookes, as an Australian Red Cross commissioner. They took stores and medical supplies to places including Gallipoli.

At the end of World War One, the AJC continued its support of those affected by the conflict with the purchase of a harbour side mansion called Canonbury. Formally opened on 23 January 1920 by His Excellency the Governor, Sir Walter Davidson its charter indicated the building would be maintained as a “Home for those suffering from permanent or serious disabilities sustained whilst on active Naval or Military Services”. The AJC supplied the staff, managed the accounts and organised for repairs until the 1940s.

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