Jockey Club cel­e­brates 170 years

Whanganui Midweek - - NEWS - By PAUL BROOKS Still On Track

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.

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