About Clifton Jockey Club
The Club’s Committee Members:
- President: George Cross
- Secretary: Margaret Cross Mobile: 0487 176 203 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
- Treasurer: Pauli Wilkinson Mobile: 0421 469 069
- 1st Vice President: Gavin Smith
- 2nd Vice President: Gavin McEvoy
Clifton’s First Races & Jockey Club’s History
With thanks to both the Clifton Courier and the Clifton Museum.
Some old records brought into the “Clifton Courier” by Mr Jim Logan reveal that on Tuesday, May24, 1881, Clifton’s first race meeting was staged, under the rules of the Warwick Turf Club.
It didn’t take the early settlers in the district long to get the sport of racing established as the town of Clifton was surveyed for settlement on April 29, 1875.
The Club Secretary was Mr John Logan and other officials were: Judge, Mr Chas Gillam snr; Clerk of Course, Thos. Logan; Starter, Chas Gillam jnr; Stewards, John McGee, J. Allman, D. Sinclair, W. Dalton, Geo. Neville, N.A. Tooth, Thos. Logan; Chas Gillam jnr; James Fitzgerald, John Gillam and Joseph Clarke.
The first race was a Maiden Plate for all horses that had never won a prize exceeding £5, weight for age over 1 ¼ miles. The winner was J. Connell’s “Triangle” receiving £8/17/-, and 2nd place G. Neville’s “Comet” at £1/10/-.
The second race over one mile for all poinies 14 hands and under, was won by G. Neville’s “Olive” receiving £3.
The Clifton Handicap was for all horses to be handicapped by the stewards, distance 1 ¾ miles. The winner was J. Connell’s “Cocoa” £15, from J. Logan’s “Orphan”.
In the year 1887 John Hurley who was then the proprietor of what was known as Hurley’s Hotel, a one-storied building which was built later into a two-storied hotel and which, as the Clifton Arms, still commands a fair share of patronage. John Hurley was a genuine old time sportsman, and set out in an endeavour to set racing going at Clifton. He opened a subscription list for the purpose, heading it himself with a donation of £3, and in a very short time he handed in the sum of £13/4/-, which sum was paid to John Logan who was appointed the Secretary and Treasurer.
The Club was known as the Clifton Racing Club – unfortunately, no particulars of race meetings held from that year until the early 1890’s are available.
Besides the publican’s booth and tea rooms, a fruit stall was conducted at the races, and from this the club received £1. Sweepstakes and collections towards the various races on the programme were a feature of those days. It will be readily assumed that from the name of the club at that time, an alteration to the present name of the Clifton Jockey Club was made in later years. No mention is made of a Cup having been competed for in those early days, but a Ladies Bracelet was an event that found much favour.
Race meetings have been held at the Recreation Reserve since 1890, but many other “Race Tracks” have been used in the District over the years. The Clifton Recreation Reserve was gazetted on September 3, 1898 and trustees elected. An agreement was drawn up on 26th February 1904 between delegates of the Clifton Jockey Club and the Trustees to erect a Saddling Paddock, Judges Box, Totalisator Room and Grandstand, to cost £250/1/3. The grandstand was erected by J.C. Olsen for £168/16/9. The Clifton Jockey Club had to pay £50 and £5 per annum and half of the nett proceeds from the main entrance gate until the liability was liquidated.
The Jockey Club erected Horse Stalls and a Dressing Room at the ground in 1903. It appears that the Club went into recess from 1912-1919 and was reformed in 1920.
The Clifton Jockey Club made application in 1956 to the Commissioner of Stamp Duties to register the race track for horse racing purposes. This was necessary to enable the Club to hold registered meetings under the Racing and Betting Act.
The Clifton Jockey Club went into recess again in 1964 and helped conduct St Patrick’s Day meetings in conjunction with the Hibernian Race Club. The Club was reformed in March 1969 with Clifton Arms mine host, Bill Foley as President, Mick Grayson as Secretary, and Tom Cridland as Treasurer. The Club applied for affiliation with the D&SWDRA and were granted the Melbourne Cup Race Day in 1969. The meeting proved to be very successful with record gate takings of over $500.
The Jockey Club carried out a tremendous amount of work on the course, including the construction of the secretary’s office and jockey’s room, and later the bar area and running rail and fencing.
The photo finish tower which houses the camera and dark room at a lower level, and judges and race commentator was opened at the April 3 meeting in 1982.