Scone Amateur Turf Club 1895

Scone Amateur Turf Club 1895

Featured Image: The St Aubins Racecourse in September 1944 and as it appeared from the air in 1948 by which time it was defunct as venue for race meetings

The first recorded race meeting conducted in Scone took place on 11th January 1842. It was not the landed gentry who promulgated the meetings but rather entrepreneurial publicans who hoped to attract patrons and promote their trade. Mr J P Wilkie of the White Swan Hotel was by all accounts the inaugural proponent. A ‘racecourse paddock’ had been cleared to accommodate the participants; both equine and human. Between 1942 and 1887 there was a significant paradigm shift to patronage by the burgeoning district squatters and landed gentry. A New Committee of the Scone Jockey Club was established between 1887 and 1891 which promoted races at the Old Racecourse Paddock. The final meeting was held there on Wednesday 16th December 1891 and Thursday 17th December 1891. The Satur Racecourse at Mr F A Parbury’s property then became the home for the Scone Jockey Club from 1892 until 1900.

The Scone Advocate reports a meeting of the Scone Amateur Turf Club on Thursday 4th July 1895 on the private St Aubins Course, Scone. St Aubins was then owned, occupied and operated by the Bakewell family. This represented a departure from the ‘traditional’ meetings of the Scone Jockey Club held around the Christmas and New Year break. ‘The amateur meetings were held on Mr Bakewell’s private St Aubins Racecourse. Only 250 people patronised the races, which reflects the select group that attended to witness the races restricted to members of the Amateur Race Club and the Scone Jockey Club’. It appears this was a ‘Members Only’ function for the self-appointed and self-elected ‘exclusives’?

It appears there was some dissent between the advocates of the original Scone Jockey Club and the Scone Amateur Turf Club? Luminaries such as Thomas Cook, Dr H J H Scott and ‘Advocate’ Smith did nothing to hide their strong opposition to gambling. The financial success or otherwise of holding race meetings depended on the ‘attractions’ that were offered. For many that meant the opportunity to bet on outcomes which were sometimes controversial. Bookmakers were there for business.

It appears the Scone Amateur Turf Club may have imploded? By May 1899 the Scone Jockey Club ran a two-day meeting on Wednesday 10th May 1899 and Thursday 11th May 1899. The Committee comprised the ‘social elite’ of President Thomas Cook, Vice-Presidents J A K Shaw, H E White and Dr H J H Scott; Judge Dr Scott; Starter J A K Shaw; Clerk of the Course M G Kinnaird; Clerk of the Scales Mr J J Dodd; Treasurer Mr J A K Shaw. It was a very closely knit ‘nepotistic’ group who would also have dominated the Scone Amateur Turf Club. Most were established Masons. It appears a workable compromise was reached.

Presumably racing still persisted on the private St Aubins Course; firstly as Mr Bakewell’s Paddock and then W J ‘Knockout’ Smith’s as late as 1944? White Park Racecourse was used for the first time in May 1947 under the auspices of the nascent Scone Race Club.