The Home of Racing in Sydney
On Monday 7th February 2011, the Australian Jockey Club (AJC) and the Sydney Turf Club (STC) merged under the new name of the Australian Turf Club (ATC). This merger brought together two proud traditions of the turf, a tradition that stretched back to colonial times.
The first official race took place in Hyde Park in October 1810 under the patronage of Governor Macquarie. As the number of race meetings increased, the need for formal organisation became apparent. The AJC first met on 5th January 1842 and they began to formulate the rules of racing, the majority of which still exist today.
The AJC became the Principal Club, regulating all aspects of a race day and the racing industry. They encouraged registration of people and horses to ensure fair and true contests at the track. As a principal employer in the areas around their racecourses, the AJC was an active participant in improving thoroughbred racing. Originally racing at Homebush, the AJC moved their racing activities to Randwick in 1860. Warwick Farm was a later addition in 1923, though racing had begun at the course in 1889.
The STC was created following the passing of the Sydney Turf Club Act by the NSW Parliament on 10th August 1943. This Act marked a dividing line in Sydney’s racing history, transforming it to a structured organisation with two independently controlled non-proprietary clubs. The STC took control of Canterbury Park (first used in 1871) and Rosehill Gardens (first used in 1885), swiftly making its mark on the industry. The introduction of the photo finish camera to metropolitan courses came to Canterbury in 1948 with mobile starting barriers appearing around the same time. Other moments of note include Phar Lap’s first start at Rosehill, the creation of the Golden Slipper and setting up Canterbury as the home of night racing.
The AJC continued to monitor the integrity of racing while hosting Royal and Papal Visits, contributing substantially to the home front during WWI and providing venues for fantastic days of racing with famous horses, jockeys and trainers making names for themselves at the track.
With the formation of the ATC, racing enters a new era in its history. Continuing as a leader in the field, the ATC engages with the traditions of the earlier clubs while also forming new and innovative ones. Meanwhile the history of what has come before is maintained in the ATC Heritage Collection which has its home in the ATC Heritage Centre at Royal Randwick Racecourse.
THE ATC HERITAGE CENTRE
The newly refurbished Heritage Centre located at Royal Randwick Racecourse is the home of Sydney racing history. With a wide variety of materials reflecting the history of the AJC, the STC and the ATC, the Heritage Centre provides a fantastic space for this history to come alive.
It is open by appointment, contact 02 9663 8539 or email@example.com
We encourage researchers to come and use the extensive research library of racing books. Organised tours will be run throughout the year, providing an insight into the work that goes on behind the scenes.
RACING THROUGH TIME
Subscribe to our bi-monthly newsletter where we examine in detail individual items from the collection and provide stories on a variety of aspects of racing history. For example, in a recent issue we looked at the development of the ‘Monkey Crouch’. Fill out your details below to learn more.