Thoroughbred Horse Racing in Australia

Thoroughbred Horse Racing in Australia



A Study of the Geographical and Social Development of Racing Communities

By Philip Herringer. ©2006. All Rights Reserved.



Author Philip Herringer has performed a monumental task in producing this succinct summary of the fascinating history of thoroughbred racing in Australia. I dutifully acknowledge the source and contents. Philip’s summary cited herewith is interesting; to say the least!

Featured Image: Racing at Five Dock (Sydney) in 1844


From its earliest days, Australia has been a horse-racing country, though the start was slow due to the nature of settlement and the distance from Europe. When fortunes expanded — due first to wool and cattle, and then to mining — racing and thoroughbred breeding became firmly established. The people who settled and made Australia which developed into a country from six colonies enjoyed and fostered racing without exception, whatever their social status. Today with the syndication of shares in a racehorse, racing has become even more egalitarian.

Anything to do with the racing industry is as good as any in the world, and often better. A major factor in the money that comes into the industry is that which comes from paying sponsors for races. The average Australian Group 1 race provides a greater stake than most in the racing world. Today racing is marketed to people who have money to spend, not necessarily an interest in racing per-se. The carnival atmosphere of the major annual meetings such as the Cups and Derbies, provides a great outlet for the products of fashion and entertainment. All this provides the income and incentive for the improvement of bloodstock through higher prices for horses which have the pedigrees that suggest champion status. It can be said that 99.9% of the Australian population participates in racing, even if it is only a ticket in the office sweep/lottery on the Melbourne Cup. Beyond any shadow of a doubt, Australia is the world’s top horse racing nation.


In spite of the passion for thoroughbred racing in Australia, there are only two authors who have attempted a comprehensive history of the sport from the beginnings until modern times. Andrew Lemon has completed the first two volumes of an intended trilogy. It is a pity further volumes have not come forwarded to date. One hopes that another will come in the future. The late sports writer Jack Pollard produced an outstanding “dictionary” type of work in Australian Horse Racing ‚ a racegoer’s companion to the Australian turf. To these two men, thank you for your books’ help, without which I would have found this short work much more difficult to research.

The History of the Australian Turf, Vols. 1 and 2, by Andrew Lemon, Classic Reproductions, Melbourne, Australia, 1987
Australian Horse Racing, by Jack Pollard, Sydney, Australia, 1988