Day At The Track

Pinjarra to celebrate 50 years racing

06:16 PM 05 Dec 2018 NZDT
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Pinjarra Pacing Cup.jpg
Pinjarra action

The Pinjarra Trotting Club was formed in 1950 and held its first race-meeting in Pinjarra on 10th March 1954 after conducting a couple of early meetings at Harvey.

After last Monday’s meeting there have been some 10952 races decided at the Pinjarra club with 6548 individual winners trained by 1298 individual trainers and driven by 890 individual drivers.

Ray Grantham with 101 Pinjarra winners as a trainer is the leading Pinjarra based trainer with the Young twins Kim (132) and Shane (104) are the only Pinjarra based drivers to top the ton at the track. 

Morgan Woodley, who was raised in nearby Waroona, has driven 245 winners at Pinjarra while Nathan Turvey, who has moved to Pinjarra in the past year, has driver 145 winners at the track.

Initially the track was located at what is now Sir Ross McLarty Park in Lovegrove Street but an increase in rental to race there made it unviable.

In 1957 the club purchased 34 acres of Blythewood Estate at the corner of Greenlands Road and South Western Highway and works began on the new course in 1959.

At the suggestion of then WA Trotting Association President J P Stratton it was decided to build a half-mile 800 metre triangular shaped track based on the design of the Redcliffe track in Queensland.

The foundations of the track were laid in 1963 and by 1965 the surface was ready for trackwork although there was still a considerable amount of work required before fencing, lighting and other amenities could be completed.

There was no Racecourse Development Trust in 1965 and the best that the WA TAB could offer was a $30,000 loan over a period of 20 years which was used along with debentures of between $20,000 and $50,000 to finance the completion of the course.

Even with the financing there was still an enormous amount of donations and volunteer work involved to construct an administration building, parade ring, stables, toilets, switch-room and parking areas.

There were donations of galvanized iron for fences while Hawker Siddeley donated a large supply of bricks and eventually the track and facilities were completed in time for the first race-meeting on 16th October 1968.

Fittingly the first race on the track was won by a local in John Blackburn with King Brazen. John Blackburn will be a guest of the club next Monday.

For the record the last meeting on the original track in Lovegrove Street was on 2nd May 1968 and Hall Of Fame inductee Jim Schrader drove four of the six winners. Jim Schrader is one of 22 drivers to have driven 100 or more winners at the Pinjarra track.

A further two meetings were held on the new track before the official opening of the venue on 11th December 1968 where, for the record, the winners were;

Pinjarra – 11th December 1968

Trainer

Driver

Winner

Owner

R W (Ron) Beresford

N T (Noel) Eddy

Wee Darlin

R W Beresford

D A (Denis) Richards

D A (Denis) Richards

Hi Toby

L J Richards, B J Richards

W (Bill) Warwick

T B (Trevor) Warwick

Heather Bay

D Friedman

L H (Les) Poyser

L H (Les) Poyser

Cygnet Sea

L Baldwin

W H (Bill) & R H (Bob) Godecke

W H (Bill) Godecke

Renaud

W H Godecke, R H Godecke

R J (Raymond) Green

G R (Gary) Lilleyman

Lady Alfreda

R C Meotti

T G (Trevor) Scoby-Smith

T G (Trevor) Scoby-Smith

Colonel James

T G Scoby-Smith

In 1982 committeeman Fred Grantham first mooted the idea of converting the triangular track to a 1000 metre circuit but nothing eventuated.

In 1988 Pinjarra club stalwart Roy Adam suggested that the club ought to have a feasibility study done to ascertain the design and costings to construct a 1000 metre track to replace the 1968 triangular design.

Application was made and in March 1990 the Racecourse Development Trust approved a grant of $375,000 to construct the present-day 1000 metre circuit.

At around the same time the Pinjarra Club requested that it be allocated 28 Monday afternoon fixtures and after approval the light poles around the 800 metre circuit.

Construction of the new 1000 metre track was undertaken while meetings were still being held on the original circuit and, acting on a suggestion by Roy Adam, the new track featured European style flexi-poles in lieu of an inside running rail.

Eventually the club was able to convince the stewards to approve the concept and Pinjarra was the first club in Australia to feature the flexi-poles that are now seen on every harness track in the country.

The 1000 metre circuit was officially opened on 26th November 1990 by local MLA Keith Read and the first race on the new track was won by the filly Enlightened for trainer Kevin Keys and driver Jason Keys.

As with the first meeting on the “old” triangular track in 1968 the first race on the day was sponsored by the McLarty family of Blythewood.

Over the 65 years that the Pinjarra Trotting Club (now Pinjarra Harness Racing Club) has been operating they have been innovators and among the notable firsts at Pinjarra have been

  • First club to run races specifically for 2yos (1956 Sapling Stakes raced in divisions and won by Prince Malcolm and Nelsons Boy)
  • First country club to use a mobile barrier to start races (1958)
  • First club in Western Australia to use head numbers (1960)
  • First 1000 metre track in Western Australia (1990)
  • First track in Australia to use flexi-poles in lieu of a running rail
  • First modern track construction to come in under budget with $63,000 returned to the Racecourse Development Trust for use by other clubs.

 

Alan Parker

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