South Australian Jockey Club

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South Australian Jockey Club is the principal race club in South Australia, Australia.

First racing events[edit]

The first horse racing events in South Australia took place at a largely-attended picnic meeting held over 1 and 2 January 1838.[1] In August 1838, riding his grey gelding Charley, Fred Handcock won the first steeplechase event ever held in South Australia.[2] Various racing events (including match races) continued throughout the 1840s, but without a regulating body.

Early foundations of the S.A.J.C.[edit]

The first incarnation of the South Australian Jockey Club (S.A.J.C.) was in 1850, when it ran a race programme at Brighton on 14 February.[3] Thomas Shayle was the Hon. Sec. and Edward Strike the Clerk of the Course. Many variously named clubs were subsequently formed and folded, and races were run under Jockey Club rules within and outside these organisations at various locations: Dry Creek, the East Parklands (the "Old Adelaide Racecourse"), Thebarton and Glenelg.

A fresh start was made following a series of meetings held in June and July 1861,[4] when a new committee was formed, whose members included Sir James Fisher (president), E. M. Bagot, W. K. Simms, P. B. Coglin (starter), William Blackler and Gabriel Bennett, with James Chambers as judge. They settled on the Thebarton track as their racecourse, and the first programme held 1–3 January 1862.[5] The Thebarton course was deeply unpopular both with racing men and the racegoing public. It was difficult of access compared with the Old Course on the East Parklands; moreover it was unpleasant on account of the smells from nearby industries. It was, however offered gratis by its owner, E. M. Bagot, whereas P. B. Coglin, who had the lease, demanded ₤1,500 for the use of the "Old Course".[6]

The Club folded in 1869 through bankruptcy[7] then was revived in 1873 after its debts were paid by a consortium of businessmen.[8]

The second S.A.J.C.[edit]

The Club was re-formed in 1875 with Stewards: Sir John Morphett, Sir Henry Ayers, John Crozier M.L.C., W. Cavenagh, MP., and Philip Levi. The Committee consisted of: G. Bennett, W. K. Simms, MP. Judge: Mr. E. M. Bagot. Starters: Henry Hughes and G. Bennett. Clerk of the Course: J. Boase.[9] The first handicapping committee consisted of W. B. Rounsevell, G. Bennett and H. Hughes.[10] Longtime handicapper Henry Hughes was succeeded by his son William Charles Hughes.[11]

Thomas Elder donated a considerable property at Morphettville, known as the "Elder Course", to the Club, which held its first meeting there on 3 January 1876.[12] The committee, with an income stream from the "tote" (totalizator) borrowed heavily to fund improvements to the course. A breakaway group, the Adelaide Racing Club acquired the lease to the "Old Adelaide Racecourse" (later known as Victoria Park) from the Adelaide City Council and until amalgamation, continued to hold race meetings there.

In 1883 Parliament passed the Totalizator Repeal Act, which had the immediate effect of making South Australian race-courses much less profitable, and the Club, whose finances were in a precarious state, was forced to relinquish the Morphettville racecourse to the Queensland Mortgage Company.[13] The 1885 Adelaide Cup was held at Flemington and the Club was defunct.

The current S.A.J.C.[edit]

In 1888 Parliament reversed its ban on the Totalizator, and three sport-loving businessmen T. F. Wigley, Sylvester Browne, and R. B. Pell[14] purchased the Morphettville course for £8,000, speculating on a resumption of racing,[15] A. O. Whitington, who had previously had a supervisory role at race meetings,[16] and whose employers John and William Pile were prominent racegoers, was approached by T. F. Wigley[17] to help revive the Club, and Whitington convened a meeting in the arbitration room of the Stock Exchange in Pirie street on 19 September 1888, presided by Sir Richard Baker.[17] Those present included Sir Richard Baker, Tom Barnfield, William Blackler, Irwin A. Bleechmore, P. Frederick Bonnin, Dr. Thomas Cawley, Hugh Chambers, John Deeney, Daniel Dunlevie, James A. Ellery, William Filgate, James Hay, Ernest W. Howard, Henry Hughes, Philip Lee, W. B. Rounsevell, A. Simms, H. Simms, W. K. Simms and T. F. Wigley. The outcome of the meeting was that Whitington was appointed Club Secretary, Baker, Rounsevell, Wigley, Pile, Chambers, Bonnin, and Ellery were appointed committee members, and the Morphettville course was leased by the Club[18] for £900 per annum with a right to purchase after four years for £12,000. In 1895 thanks to "the tote" and Whitington's careful stewardship, the SAJC was able to exercise its "right to purchase" from Browne, who had meanwhile acquired Pell's then Wigley's shares.[19]

In 2008, firstly Victoria Park, and then in 2009 Cheltenham Park were discontinued as racing facilities in South Australia, and now races are conducted at one metropolitan course: Morphettville. Major races include the Group 1 Goodwood Handicap (1200m), Group 2 Adelaide Cup (3200m), Group 1 SA Derby (2500m) and the Group 1 Australasian Oaks (2000m).


The following is a list of group races, which are conducted by the South Australian Jockey Club (SAJC).

Grp Race Name Age Sex Weight Distance
1 Australasian Oaks 3YO Fillies sw 2020
1 Goodwood Handicap 3YO+ Open hcp 1200
1 Robert Sangster Stakes 3YO+ F&M sw 1200
1 South Australian Derby 3YO Open sw 2500
2 Adelaide Cup 3YO+ Open hcp 3200
2 SAJC Coolmore Classic 3YO+ F&M sw+p 1600
2 Yallambee Classic 3YO Open sw 1200
2 Queen Of The South Stakes 3YO+ F&M sw 1600
3 SA Fillies Classic 3YO Fillies sw 2500
3 Auraria Stakes 3YO Fillies sw+p 1800
3 Lord Reims Stakes 3YO+ Open hcp 2600
3 D.C. McKay Stakes 3YO+ Open hcp 1100
3 R. N. Irwin Stakes 3YO+ Open wfa 1100
3 Robert A. Lee Stakes 3YO+ Open hcp 1600
3 SAJC Breeders' Stakes 2YO Open sw 1200
3 SAJC Queen's Cup 3YO+ Open hcp 2000
3 SAJC Sires' Produce Stakes 2YO Open sw 1600
3 SAJC Spring Stakes 3YO+ Open wfa 1200
3 The Jansz 2YO Open sw 1200


  1. ^ Register, 20 January 1838, p. 3.
  2. ^ Register, 18 August 1838, pp. 2-3.
  3. ^ Brighton Races South Australian Register 2 February 1850 accessed 18 October 2011
  4. ^ "The Late Mr. Gabriel Bennett". Adelaide Observer. LII, (2,815). South Australia. 14 September 1895. p. 18. Retrieved 22 June 2017 – via National Library of Australia. 
  5. ^ "South Australian Jockey Club Summer Meeting". The South Australian Advertiser. IV, (1067). South Australia. 18 December 1861. p. 3. Retrieved 26 June 2017 – via National Library of Australia. 
  6. ^ "THE TURF.". South Australian Register. XXXIII, (7194). South Australia. 29 November 1869. p. 3. Retrieved 27 June 2017 – via National Library of Australia. 
  7. ^ "New Year's Day". South Australian Register. Adelaide. 3 January 1870. p. 6. Retrieved 16 September 2012 – via National Library of Australia. 
  8. ^ "Sporting". South Australian Register. Adelaide. 15 July 1873. p. 7 Supplement: Supplement to the South Australian Register. Retrieved 16 September 2012 – via National Library of Australia. 
  9. ^ "South Australian Jockey Club. May Meeting 1875". South Australian Register. Adelaide. 25 May 1875. p. 6. Retrieved 16 September 2012 – via National Library of Australia. 
  10. ^ "A Man's Duty is to Serve His Country". The Mail. Adelaide. 13 September 1913. p. 2. Retrieved 14 September 2012 – via National Library of Australia. 
  11. ^ "A Handicapper Retiring". The Advertiser (Adelaide). South Australia. 8 February 1927. p. 8. Retrieved 26 June 2017 – via National Library of Australia. 
  12. ^ "South Australian Jockey Club". The South Australian Advertiser. Adelaide. 4 January 1876. p. 6. Retrieved 2 January 2014 – via National Library of Australia. 
  13. ^ "A Prominent Racing Identity". The Advertiser. Adelaide. 18 November 1924. p. 7. Retrieved 11 November 2015 – via National Library of Australia. 
  14. ^ Reginald Bradford "Reg" Pell (c. 1860 – 1 July 1916), second son of Professor Pell of Sydney University, was handicapper in Broken Hill then for W.A.T.C. in Perth.
  15. ^ "Sporting Notes". South Australian Register. Adelaide. 15 September 1888. p. 7. Retrieved 9 November 2015 – via National Library of Australia. 
  16. ^ "Police Court". The Express and Telegraph. Adelaide. 3 June 1884. p. 2 Edition: Half-Past One. Retrieved 8 November 2015 – via National Library of Australia. 
  17. ^ a b "Secretary of the S.A.J.C.". The Mail. Adelaide. 9 May 1914. p. 8. Retrieved 4 November 2015 – via National Library of Australia. 
  18. ^ "Sporting Notes.". The Observer. Adelaide. 14 August 1909. p. 21. Retrieved 8 November 2015 – via National Library of Australia. 
  19. ^ "Sporting Notes". South Australian Register. Adelaide. 22 March 1895. p. 7. Retrieved 9 November 2015 – via National Library of Australia. 

External links[edit]