Jockey Club celebrates 170 years
Wanganui Jockey Club has just celebrated 170 years of operation.
On December 21 and 22, 1848, its first official race meeting was held, making it the oldest surviving jockey club in the country.
To further commemorate the occasion, author Laraine Sole was asked to write an update to the club’s recorded history, a book to accompany Laraine’s previous publication, Wanganui Jockey Club, 1848-1998.
The new book is entitled Still On Track 1999-2018.
“I went through the club’s minutes first, to get an outline to hang everything on,” says Laraine.
She divided the book into presidencies with racing at the end of each section.
“Racing is not my specialist area, so I contacted [racing journalist and race day judge] Iain [Hyndman] with a desperate plea for help. He started sending me snippets and stories and I was able to weave those into my story.
“And, of course, Bret was wonderful.” Bret Field is Wanganui Jockey Club Operations Manager.
“He had photographs which he sent to me. Then, a stroke of luck. I went to the races and met Peter Rubery [racing photographer] and he gave me — free — all his photographs for this book. That made the book that much more affordable. So, with Iain’s generosity, the Chronicle archives and Peter Rubery offering his photographs, it was just a question of trying to pick up stories from people.”
With vet Bill Stewart Iain selects category winners for annual awards.
With the racing stories he had written and the notes for end of year presentations, Laraine had a lot of human interest-focused material for the book.
“Iain got the racing sorted and I interpreted it, so he’s a very important part of this book.
“I was able to replay the compliment, after shamelessly plagiarising Iain’s work, by the Chronicle being able to use my other book as source material for their racing supplement.”
The Whanganui Chronicle published a jockey club history feature to commemorate the 170-year anniversary.
Laraine urges other clubs to record and update their own histories rather than rely on people’s memories.
“You need to write summaries at the end of every year of your existence so people have the information there,” she says.
Wanganui Jockey Club, being just eight years younger than the Treaty of Waitangi, is arguably the oldest sporting club in New Zealand.
■ is priced at $25 and is available at The Wanganui Jockey Club, Paige’s Book Gallery and H&A Print.
Copies of the previous book are still available at Paige’s or the Jockey Club.
Laraine Sole and Iain Hyndman with “the Horse” taking bets behind them.