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History of the Cooma - Monaro Race Club

The first record of an organised horse race meeting is gained from the issue to Joseph Ward, on 25 February, 1855, of a publican’s booth licence, for races to be held at Tea Tree Flat on 20, 21, and 22 March, the licence being operative from 6am till 10pm. Another meeting was held at the same place on 26 and 27 October of the same year. In June 1856, booth licences for races were granted to Joseph Ward and James Hain, publicans of Cooma, and Alexander Walker Davidson, of Reid’s Flat (now Bunyan), and the two first named secured licenses for a meeting on 17, 18 and 19 March, 1857, and another meeting on Boxing Day. Later, races were conducted on Cooma Creek, the finishing post being somewhere near where the Co-operative Mill was afterwards erected. These were the premises that, were used by Messrs. Ruddin and Co. as Freezing Works. The first authentic race programme discovered is printed on a single sheet of paper, and is headed, “Beresford Picnic Races, 1867.” It comprises six events, and a perusal of it indicates the number of the horses belonged to the pioneers. The Maiden Plate, The Ladies’ Purse, and The Beaten Stakes were each run over a mile and a half course; The Bachelor’s Bag was two miles, with 11Ist. up; in the big race, The Picnic Cup, horses were asked to run three miles carrying (weight for age (w.f.a.) to win a prize of £10/10/0, whilst the Hack Race was run in mile heats, also w.f.a. The name “Beresford” was probably adopted from the fact that Cooma is within the county of Beresford. On 15th August, 1871, an area of 320 acres was dedicated as a recreation reserve, and on this racing has since been conducted. The body controlling the sport has seen many ups and downs, but is now in a flourishing condition. It has had quite a number of changes of title, and in 1895 was known as the Monaro Jockey Club. In 1896 it became the Cooma Racing Club.

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