A brief history of the Wellington Racing Club at Trentham
Racing is in the blood of Wellingtonians with a horse race held at what is now Taranaki Street, Wellington, in September 1840, as part of the first anniversary celebrations. A jockey club was established in Wellington in 1841 not long after the first settlers arrived in Petone in 1839, however, it went out of existence after only two years. The Wellington Jockey Club was re-established in 1865 and had a more permanent home in 1873. The Wellington Racing Club was "named" in 1879. Racing took place at this time in various locations including Petone foreshore, Lyall Bay, Burnham Water (Miramar) and the Old Hutt Park course. The first recorded running of a Wellington Cup was on the 27th March 1867 for 40 Guineas over two miles. Celebrating the history of the WellingtonCup, the outstanding trophy that was originally presented to the winner of the 1894 race, T Sheenans "Vogengang", ridden by Derret, is back on display as part of the annual celebration that is the Wellington Cup Carnival.
The birth of Trentham Racecourse
Although Trentham was 16 3/4 miles from Wellington, the travel time was considerably less than the Hutt Park site and had the added advantage of the adjacent railway line. Work Started in 1922 on three stands, The Leger (demolished in the 1998), and the reinforced concrete cantilevered public and members stands which still dominate and provide excellent viewing today. In a rush to have the stands completed for the January 1924 cup week, the workers were "compensated" with chocolate and nylons to work extra hours over the Christmas and New Year period with the stands being opened on time!
Expansion of Trentham Racecourse
An additional 190 acres was purchased in 1950. Since that time various parcels have been sold including areas to General Motors, Hutt International Boys School and the Summerset Retirement village. The first National Yearling sales were held at Trentham from 1927 until their move north in the 1987 and provided a big part of the excitement of cup week.In 1928 a little known unpolished colt was sold at Trentham for 168 pounds and exported to Australia.
Prominent races have been enjoyed at Trentham for years including some that had their origins prior to the move to the valley.Thes include the Chalmers Handicap (since1963), the Parliamentary Handicap (1896), the Telegraph Handicap (1891), the Thompson Handicap (1892), the Trentham Stakes (1946),the NZ St Leger (1899), the Wellington Guineas (1940), the Wellington Stakes (1897), the Desert Gold Stakes (1947), the Wellesley Stakes (1898), the Wellington Steeplechase (1885), the Wellington Hurdles (1896) Today Trentham Racecourse is set on 67 Hectares of manicured grounds and hosts around 12 race days annually. Other events including weddings, conferences and festivals are also held regularly with the views and location as spectacular as it was when first viewed in 1906.