Missed Anne Field’s recent talks about Moorefield’s Racecourse? Catch up here and read her guest post. If you would like to know more, contact Anne directly to purchase her book.
Guest posts by long-term local residents have been a popular addition to this blog. Examples include Jack O’Brien’s memories of working in a wool wash, and Robert Hanna’s recollections about Botany Bay before the port and Foreshore Road. If you have a story to share we would love to hear from you.
Moorefield Racecourse, Kogarah, Sydney (1888-1951) by Anne Field
My research on Moorefield Racecourse started in 1993. This research, which took me over 20 years, was instigated from a chance meeting with a former Moorefield Racecourse groundsman in mid- 1992. He phoned me as the Third Ward Alderman to make a representation to Council in respect of a footpath. The St George Leader newspaper printed an article on my planned research in mid – 1993. Elderly residents then wrote letters to me containing some Moorefield stories, another left me an old race book, another a race field which was found underneath lino which was being removed; another an old Gregory’s Street Directory.
Moorefield was not just a racecourse. Kogarah Golf Club was located in the middle of the course; the Club leased the land from 1929 to 1955 Moorefield’s histoHHHhh Hry abounds with personalities –whether they be jockeys, golfers, SP bookmakers, or punters. It is all these people who can be credited with Moorefield gaining the affectionate name, “The Goat Track. “
The land on which the racecourse was situated was originally granted to Patrick Moore on August 25, 1812 by Governor Lachlan Macquarie.
A descendant, Peter Moore established the racecourse and its first meeting were held on October 13 1888. In 1909, title was transferred from Peter Joseph Moore to Moorefield Racecourse Limited. In 1920, Moorefield Racecourse Limited transferred the land to The Moorefield Race Club. They in turn transferred the land to the Sydney Turf Club in 1947, who had leased the land from 1945.
In the early years there were 9 or 10 meetings; in later years there were only 4 or 5 meetings. The last race meeting was transferred from Canterbury as it was in a blackout zone. No mention was made in the press that it was the last Moorefield meeting. Chief Pontiac, ridden by Arthur Ward won the last race on July 14, 1951.
Course amenities included a Member’s stand; behind the winning post were the Paddock and Leger grandstands; paddock, leger and member totes; refreshment and rest rooms. “Moorefields”, which faced President Avenue, was the Moore family home.
Declining numbers of race meetings, the high cost of maintaining the racecourse, interest from the Education Department for schools and the Department of Technical Education for a college were all factors which contributed to the sale. The STC also wanted to build up Canterbury and Rosehill Racecourses.
The course remained open for barrier trials and finally closed in mid- 1955 to be used for educational institutions, and a residential area. Permission to sell the racecourse was granted on December 14, 1953. James Cook Boys, Moorefield Girls and St George Tafe were to be built and the remaining 53 acres was auctioned by Oakdale Pty Ltd, a subsidiary of L.J. Hooker on August 9, 1955 at 118, 50 pounds for 270 home sites.
Well known jockeys, who rode at Moorefield included Ted Bartle, Edgar Britt, Billy Cook, Billy Lappin, Maurice McCarten, Arthur Podmore, George Podmore, John Rincheval, Ray Selkrig, Teddy Swinton, Arthur Ward and Jack Waterhouse.
Moorefield jockeys alive today include Edgar Britt, Cliff Clare, Mick Hood, Frank (Johnny) Hudson, Ray Selkrig, and Jack Waterhouse.
Some Moorefield jockeys rode in Ceylon, India, Malaysia, Singapore, Ireland and England. The Maharajas in India, who engaged Australian jockeys by all accounts, looked after these jockeys well.
I have listed jockeys, who rode on January 9, 1909 at Moorefield. For the November 8, 1930 and January 6, 1951 meetings I have included horses, jockeys and trainers. I have also listed all the Moorefield race dates from 1888- until 1951. This makes it easier for family historians, who can then use Trove to check for when their ancestors rode. The Sydney Morning Herald provided detailed reports of the race meetings and is an excellent resource.
Well known and successful trainers from the 1920’s onwards were Roy Barker, Bill Clancy, Arthur Croall, W Kennison, Jim Mc Curley, Son McKinnon, Bob Mead, Mick Polson, and Bob Ryan. There were many small time trainers who may have had only a few horses more in the way of a hobby.
My book cover features Hiraji returning to scale from winning the 1947 Melbourne Cup. Hiraji was trained at Moorefield by Jim McCurley, who had stables in French Street, Kogarah .He was ridden in the Melbourne Cup by Melbourne jockey Jack Purtell, wearing the red and white colours of the owner, F. W. Hughes. These colours are today held by a member of the Mc Curley family. Jack aged 95 lives on the Sunshine Coast, Queensland.
Well known horses which raced at Moorefield included All Love, Annie Laurie, Black Cat, Brazier, Cavedweller , Codicil , Columnist (owned by Sir Frank Packer), Dashing Cavalier, Decorate, Fort Denison , Fujisan, Grey Boots, Grey Nurse, High Jip, Hiraji , Journalist, Le Dauphin, Magnificent, Nightmarch , Nizam’s Ring, Radical, Reading , San Domenico, St Elmo and Tactician.
Nizam’s Ring for example was a grey filly trained by Jim Mc Curley, and owned by F, W. Hughes. In 1947 she won the Wakeful Stakes and Oaks at Flemington, the Flight Stakes and Mersey Stakes at Randwick and the One Thousand Guineas at Caulfield.
Magnificent won the 1945 AJC Derby and the 1945 VRC Derby. The horse was owned by Mrs McLauchlan from the Brighton Hotel, Brighton –Le- Sands, Sydney and was trained by Arthur Croall from Sans Souci.
Some of these horses such as Cavedweller, were Moorefield specialists, who did well on this uphill and down dale course which was affectionately called “The Goat Track.” The back straight called for an uphill gallop to the home turn. Three shutes however provided straight runs from their barriers.
There were a number of horses who ran in the Melbourne Cup. Hiraji, trained at Moorefield won the Cup in 1947. Westcourt (1917), Windbag (1925) and Foxami (1949) won at Moorefield and won a Melbourne Cup. Nightmarch (1929), Old Rowley (1940) Russia (1946) and Hiraji (1947) all raced at Moorefield without winning.