White Park Awakens to Racing 1947
Featured Image: Promotional Poster for the inaugural Scone Race Club Cup Meeting at White Park on Wednesday 7th May 1947
Harley Walden has written extensively on the genesis of the then newly constituted Scone Race Club and its initial foray at the brand new racetrack. The Club had at long last established a permanent home. White Park was to remain the spiritual home of the club for the next c. 47 years. Harley called his histoire ‘The Spirit Within’. I was privileged to contribute in a small way with my submission; ‘Dreams; the Exodus, the Genesis and the Birth of a New Race Track’. The latter refers to the current location at Satur where it is likely to remain for the foreseeable future; certainly well into the 21st century.
The Scone Advocate reported at length on the great success of the inaugural meeting in its detailed account on Friday 9th May 1947:
“The culminating point of twelve month’s hard toil plus initiative and enterprise aplenty by the Scone Race Club, was reached on Wednesday last with a response in the form of a well-deserved reward – a record crowd for alike fixture in the Upper Hunter, salubrious weather, and successful proceedings which will augur well for the future activities of the club, which purposes setting the seal to its goal to modernise the course and appointments for the convenience of patronage generally when time and conditions permit. It is understood that the takings in the aggregate will be approximately £1300”.
‘Oxford Lad’ (by Hadrian from Small Clare) won the very first race; a Maiden Handicap of five furlongs earning for owner Mrs B La Hay, trainer Mr Stan Wicks and jockey H Jackson a sustained ovation. Rider L C Duncombe won the main double while H Darke enjoyed a dual success. The stage was set for what has undoubtedly emerged as one of, if not the best, of all Country Race Club Carnivals. It is certainly the best patronised.
By Harley Walden
DURING the war years, a number of race meetings were held by the Scone Race Club, namely at “Alabama” and St Aubins.
On December 7 1944 an enthusiastic band of gentlemen gathered to form a committee for the sole purpose of constructing a leisure outlet for the people of Scone and the Shire.
Mr. Doug Robertson was elected President, Mr. Ted Howell treasurer and Mr. Cecil Parry honorary secretary. The committee comprised: Messrs. B. Price, AW Riddle, S. Keene, S. Readford, C. Duncombe, L.R Morgan, H. Johnston, S. Clark, L. Israel, N. Lochead and Sgt. J. Loomes.
The committee was formed with the aim to raise sufficient funds to obtain at the time, many people considered a “pipedream”.
In an endeavour to obtain these funds to build the course, the committee opened a public subscription list, which met with liberal support from the people of the district.
In addition, one prominent horde-breeder of the area stated he would donate one Hundred pounds towards the expense of building the course.
When this was made known to other breeders in the district, six of them agreed to do likewise.
Thus, with seven hundred pounds guaranteed, plus eight hundred and seventy-eight pounds from public subscriptions, the committee set about to build a course on White Park, and in August 1945, Mr. G. McRae was employed to lay out the course and a start was made.
For many years past there had been a desire, even a demand, for a club-owned course and appointments in the Scone district, the acclaimed home of the thoroughbred of the extensive terrain beneath the Southern Cross itself.
This was made possible, but only after more than a modicum of hard work, pulsating from a comparatively small body of sportsmen – men who placed the public first and foremost and who never lost sight of the fact of the needs of the district from an angle envisaged and worked from what must be at all times within its ambit.
These public-spirited men and their colleagues found the wherewithal to have a track laid out and the appointments placed in position.
These self-same did more, they appreciably co-operated in bringing into use an expanse of country destined by nature to bring relaxation and a colourful occupation to the residents of the town and environs, and even further afield.
White Park itself is steeped in history.
Originally it was part of Kelly’s Farm, the property of sailor Richard Kelly who lost two of his ships while employed under government contract and received a grant of 1920 acres in Scone as compensation.
This was Governor Darling’s day and Kelly Street was then the track leading to Kelly’ Farm.
The farm became part of St Aubins soon afterwards and when Bakewells subdivided the old Racecourse Paddock the people of Scone were given the use of another paddock known as the Town Paddock or Bakewells Paddock as a recreation area.
For many years school picnics, Empire Day functions and many sporting activities were held there, but when further subdivisions of St Aubins were made in the early 1920s it seemed that the town would once again lose a popular recreation area.
It was purchased and given to the town by Mr. Alf White of Belltrees, in whose honour it was named “White Park” in 1924.
Thus in 1947 the Scone Race Club staged its first Cup meeting on a parcel of land belonging to the people of Scone.