Armidale Racecourse is a prominent thoroughbred horse racing venue in Armidale, New South Wales, Australia. Located midway between Brisbane and Sydney, this racecourse is situated along the beautiful touring route of Waterfall Way and is two and a half hours from the Coast.
The turf club that manages and oversees the operations of the racecourse is Armidale Jockey Club.
Armidale Racecourse History
New South Wales has a long and rich history of horse racing and is one of the pioneers of organised horse racing in Australia. While the sport was introduced in the country by the English settlers in the 1780s, it came to New South Wales in the early 1800s. The first organised race was conducted at Hyde Park in Sydney in 1810. A group of officers from a local regiment organised the race.
Soon the racing fever spread to other parts of the region, and Armidale was no exception. The city, at present home to 23,000 individuals, soon saw the emergence of horse racing as a dominant sport. It is believed that the racecourse has been operational since the 1860s and has been home to Armidale Jockey Club ever since.
While the racecourse has changed significantly since it was first established, it still retains some of the old structures. One of these is the historic heritage building now known as the Jockey Rooms. It was originally built in 1910, and to date, it reflects its ancient charm and character. Similarly, the current grandstand was built shortly after the Jockey Rooms and is in use even today. However, it has been modified with renovations and the addition of a modern bar.
The most prominent race held at Armidale Racecourse in the present day is the Armidale Cup. It was first held in 1978. More on that later; let’s first learn about the facilities and physical attributes of the Armidale Racecourse.
Armidale Racecourse Facilities
For a small city racing facility, Armidale Racecourse displays a lot of character and charm. It is regarded as one of the major facilities in the New England region of New South Wales. Located on Barney Street, only two blocks from the Armidale City Centre, the racecourse reflects the similar charm and laidback country-style ambiance of Armidale city.
Armidale is a small racing facility, particularly when compared with other Sydney Racecourses like Rosehill Gardens, Royal Randwick and Eagle Farm Racecourse in Brisbane. The racetrack at Armidale Racecourse has a circumference of 1600 metres and an overall width of 20 metres lined with plastic rails. The home straight is 320 metres, and races are run in a clockwise direction.
The track has a straight run from the 1000 metre mark to 800 metres and then has a slightly downhill run until the turn leads into the home straight, with an uphill run towards the finishing post. The racetrack also has five chutes at the 1100, 1200, 1400, and 1900 metre mark.
The undulation of the course at Armidale, with a mix of the rise and dips having an uphill straight and downhill turn to the turn towards home followed by the uphill run to the end, make racing on the course challenging yet exciting.
As mentioned earlier, the racecourse still features remnants of the historic past with its unique heritage building called the Jockey Rooms, constructed in 1910. The historic grandstand equipped with modern amenities and the gardens makes attending races at Armidale Racecourse a gratifying experience. The grandstand features a modern bar, and catering facilities are also available.
Besides racing, the Armidale Racecourse also features event venues and function rooms which can be used for personal or corporate events, exhibitions, expos, and conferences.
Armidale Racecourse Fixtures & Calendar
Armidale Jockey Club conducts around 11 race meetings annually at Armidale Racecourse. A few years ago, the number of average races conducted at the racecourse was six but was increased to 11 later. Being a smaller racecourse, Armidale does not conduct any group races or horse racing carnivals and is limited to listed races mostly. Races are mostly conducted on Saturdays, while major races from Sydney and Melbourne are also live-casted.
The highlight of the Armidale Racecourse racing calendar is the Armidale Cup. The race was first held in March of 1978. Presently, it is held in December every year. The race has a distance of 1900 metres and a prize money of $60,000.
Another prominent race held at Armidale is the Guyra Cup. The race has a distance of 1400 metres and is conducted in November annually with a purse worth $34,000.