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Heritage Centre & History

Since October 1810 when Sydney’s first official race took place in Hyde Park, horseracing has been at the cultural heart of the city.

The Heritage Centre

Located at Royal Randwick Racecourse, our Heritage Centre provides a captivating archive and study space that brings this history alive. Researchers are encouraged to use the extensive library of racing books. Open by appointment, please contact 02 9663 8539 or email heritage@australianturfclub.com.au. Access is via Ascot Street with designated parking outside the Heritage Centre.

Heritage Tours

Complimentary 90 minute heritage tours are hosted on the first Thursday of every month at Royal Randwick at 10.30am. 15 guests per session. Registration required. Please note tours are currently postponed due to COVID restrictions.

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Racing Through Time Newsletter

Subscribe to our bi-monthly heritage e-newsletter which explores stories and items from the collection.

1866 Sydney Cup

1866 Sydney Cup

The Collection

The inaugural running of the Sydney Cup in 1866 was a day of great excitement with the Governor and his entourage in attendance. It proved to be a close race with jockey Samuel Holmes only pulling Yattendon away to win at the last. The thrilling victory was awarded with this gold cup, the first to be presented as a racing prize in Sydney. Remarkably it has survived. It is made of 18 carat gold by the English silversmith, Stephen Smith.

The inaugural running of the Sydney Cup in 1866 was a day of great excitement with the Governor and his entourage in attendance. It proved to be a close race with jockey Samuel Holmes only pulling Yattendon away to win at the last. The thrilling victory was awarded with this gold cup, the first to be presented as a racing prize in Sydney. Remarkably it has survived. It is made of 18 carat gold by the English silversmith, Stephen Smith.

1858 English Doncaster Trophy

1858 English Doncaster Trophy

The Collection

This elaborately decorated cup was originally made in 1847 in England by R. & S. Garrard & Co. also crown jewellers to Queen Victoria. This cup was presented to the winner, Vedette, of the English Doncaster in 1858. It was purchased by the Packer family at an auction in the 1970s. In memory of Sir Frank Packer (who served on the AJC Committee for 11 years until his death in 1974), the cup was donated to the AJC to be a perpetual trophy for the Frank Packer Plate. From 2009, it was presented to the winner of the AJC Doncaster Handicap, coming full circle to be part of Doncaster history.

This elaborately decorated cup was originally made in 1847 in England by R. & S. Garrard & Co. also crown jewellers to Queen Victoria. This cup was presented to the winner, Vedette, of the English Doncaster in 1858. It was purchased by the Packer family at an auction in the 1970s. In memory of Sir Frank Packer (who served on the AJC Committee for 11 years until his death in 1974), the cup was donated to the AJC to be a perpetual trophy for the Frank Packer Plate. From 2009, it was presented to the winner of the AJC Doncaster Handicap, coming full circle to be part of Doncaster history.

1910 Chronograph

1910 Chronograph

The Collection

A chronograph is a timing device that uses the same mechanism as a pocket stop watch on a larger scale. Adapted for horse races during the 1800s, it mechanised the timing of races and at Randwick it was attached to the back of the judge’s box so that those sitting in the member’s stand could see the race results immediately. The electric chronograph was installed at Randwick in 1910 and remained in use until the 1950s. Rediscovered in 2010 it was sent out to restorers. Many hours of work were needed to clean, consolidate and re-create aspects of the body and the face. It now stands at 10ft tall in the Heritage Gallery at Randwick, one of the largest chronographs still intact today.

A chronograph is a timing device that uses the same mechanism as a pocket stop watch on a larger scale. Adapted for horse races during the 1800s, it mechanised the timing of races and at Randwick it was attached to the back of the judge’s box so that those sitting in the member’s stand could see the race results immediately. The electric chronograph was installed at Randwick in 1910 and remained in use until the 1950s. Rediscovered in 2010 it was sent out to restorers. Many hours of work were needed to clean, consolidate and re-create aspects of the body and the face. It now stands at 10ft tall in the Heritage Gallery at Randwick, one of the largest chronographs still intact today.

Timeline

Learn how the harbour city’s love affair with racing was influenced by the Australian Jockey Club and Sydney Turf Club, and then after their 2011 merger, the Australian Turf Club.

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Timeline