A Guide To Cairns Racecourse

Cairns Racecourse, commonly known asCannon Park Racecourse, is home to the Cairns Jockey Club and is located in Cairns, Queensland, Australia. The racecourse is a prime racing facility for greyhounds and horses.

The racecourse is known for the renowned Cairns Cup Carnival, a significant feature on the Cairns social calendar and a prominent feature of the local racing industry.

Here is a brief insight into the history, physical attributes, and features of Cairns Racecourse.

Cairns Racecourse History

The vibrant and long history of the Cairns Jockey Club can be traced back to 1884 when a group of more than fifty racing enthusiasts came together in the Mining Exchange Hotel in the township to sign up for the club’s membership. 

The meeting was deemed quite significant, and individuals from places as far as Port Douglas and Herberton had come to attend that meeting. The day the Cairns Jockey Club was formed was declared a holiday. The first race meeting was conducted shortly after the formation of the club.

The Cannon family originally owned the land where the Cannon Racecourse is currently located. The family donated the land to establish the racecourse and the club in the 1900s, and the first race meeting at the present venue was held in 1911. 

Hence for the past 110 years, Cannon Park has been home to the historic Cairns Jockey Club and has put Cairns at the forefront of racing in the region. According to records, the first Cairns Cup was held in the early 1900s. 

Over the years, the Cannon Park Racecourse underwent numerous renovations and development projects. In July 1972, the grandstand was opened. Shortly after, a further renovation was initiated to add an extension to the facility to accommodate a new main public bar, the Barrier Reef function room, and a tote office and windows.

Renovation work also included an extension of the galloping track to 1800 metres, the construction of a horse swimming pool, adding swab stalls, the upgrade of steward towers, and installing an enhanced semaphore board.

In March 2006, Cannon Park Racecourse was damaged when Cyclone Larry severely damaged the structure and the track. However, a large part of the running rail was damaged beyond repair, while the working shed roof was also ripped off, making the starting barriers prone to water damage. 

Moreover, the front gate ticketing office and the signage on site were also damaged, while many fig trees in the surrounding tropical gardens were ripped off. Despite these conditions, the club continued its operations. Members, workers, and volunteers came together to execute repair work, allowing the trainers to continue their work with minimum disruption.

Cairns Racecourse Facilities

Located in Earlville, Queensland, the Cairns or Cannon Park Racecourse is an excellent racing facility and its events are one of the top to-do things in the Great Barrier Reef. 

The track at Cairns Racecourse has a circumference of 1800 metres, while the home straight is 320 metres. The racetrack is triangular in shape with sweeping turns, and racing takes place in a counter-clockwise direction.

The races at the racecourse start at 800m, 1000m, 1200m, 1500m, 1700m, and 2000m. The races having a distance of 1200m, 1500m, and 1700m, begin from the starting chutes of the track.

The racecourse can accommodate 12,000 individuals during racing days. The venue features three bars, a restaurant, and many function rooms. The grounds also have six venues with a capacity of 50 to 1000 individuals. These venues are ideal for hosting intimate events like weddings and corporate events like meetings, presentations, car shows, and various community activities. 

Cairns Racecourse Fixtures & Calendar

Cairns Racecourse is home to several race meetings, which are renowned for race quality and the fashion and glamour that attendees bring to these events. The highlight of the racing calendar is the Cairns Cup Carnival. Held in late August or early September every year, this two-day event was first introduced in 1959. 

Racing takes place on two days with a carnival-like atmosphere, full of glamour and fashion, and comprises a trifecta of exciting races. The first day of racing is called Ladies Day, while the next day is called Cairns Cup Day.

The racecourse has been home to numerous gallopers who have won prominent places in stakes races and won at the metropolitan level. These include Regal Punch, the winner of the Queensland Cup, and the popular trio bred in Queensland, including See You Twist, Dirtiere, and Strictly Smart. Renowned jockeys and trainers have spent their formative years at Cairns Racecourse. 

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