History

The first record of an organised horse race meeting is gained from the issue to Joseph Ward, on 25th February, 1855, of a publican's booth license, for races to be held at Tea Tree Flat on 20th., 21st., and 22nd March, the license being operative from 6 a.m. till 10 p.m. Another meeting was held at the same place on 26th. and 27th. October of the same year. In June, 1856, booth licenses 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 17th, 18th and 19th 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 are the premises that, until recently, were used by Messrs. Ruddin and Co. as Freezing Works.

The first authentic race programme it has been possible to discover 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 bottom of the horses belonging 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 w.f.a. to win a prize of £IO/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 Manaro Jockey Club. In 1896 it became the Cooma Racing Club.

The ground on which the meetings are held is about two miles out of town. Its appointments are good, and it has a well laid out course. The present secretary is Mr. J. C. Martin who, over thirty years back, was a vice-president of the club and a successful horse owner. Names that occur as intimately associated with racing and the Cooma Race Club are Messrs. J. H. Montague, Rolfe, Kaufline, Delaney, Eccleston, Woodcroft, Brooks, Cosgrove, and Harnett. The Club not infrequently holds meetings for the benefit of the Cooma Hospital.