Doomben Racecourse is a horse racing facility in Ascot, northeast of Brisbane, Queensland. Besides the Eagle Farm Racecourse, it is one of the two major horse racing venues in South East Queensland.
Managed by the Brisbane Racing Club, the racecourse has been operating since 1933 and is presently home to significant thoroughbred races, including the Doomben Cup, the Doomben 10,000, and the BTC Cup, among others. However, more on that later! Let’s delve into the history of the Doomben Racecourse and its physical attributes and facilities.
Doomben Racecourse History
When it comes to horse racing, Brisbane is no stranger to the sport. The earliest records of horse racing in the area can be found in the 1800s when Eagle Farm Racecourse opened its door to the public in 1865. Before that, unregistered race meetings were conducted on a track by the creek in Albion Park.
Eagle Farm welcomed thousands of avid racegoers who were intrigued by the sport and wanted to enjoy it in its true spirit. It was under the management of the Queensland Turf Club. The Brisbane Amateur Racing Club was formed in 1924 and purchased land at Albion Park, which was later sold to the state government in 1981 and later became a harness horse racing facility.
In 1933, the Brisbane Amateur Racing Club established Doomben Racecourse, and the first race meeting was conducted the same year in May. It comprised seven races in the day, with the Doomben Newmarket Handicap as the main race. 17 horses from New South Wales took participated in the event. This race was the first straight 6 furlongs sprint held in Queensland.
However, the racecourse shut down after a few years in 1941 due to the Second World War. During the Pacific War, it became a facility for the Allied troops. In 1946, Doomben Racecourse opened its doors to the public again, and the TM Ahern Cup was held for the first time.
Since the establishment of Doomben Racecourse, the land where the racecourse is located has been passed between various stakeholders, including the crown title, registered racing organisations, and purchasing syndicates.
In 1982, Doomben Racecourse underwent a major upgrade and reopened with new world-class facilities. In 1997, the Brisbane Amateur Racing Club was renamed the Brisbane Turf Club. In 2009, the Brisbane Turf Club and the Queensland Turf Club merged to form the Brisbane Racing Club.
The merger between the two clubs had come after a lot of deliberation, whereas at one point, there were talks of closing down Doomben in the early 2000s. However, in 2007 firm support in favour of the merger rather than closure led to the conclusion that the two turf clubs could not continue to operate separately as the competition had increased considerably and was resulting in losses, particularly for the BTC.
Since 1933, Doomben Racecourse has hosted many notable races under the Brisbane Turf Club and then the Brisbane Racing Club. Now Doomben Racecourse is under the management and supervision of the Brisbane Racing Club, which organises horse racing events at the facility.
Doomben Racecourse Facilities
In 1996, Doomben Racecourse underwent major renovations. The project included new features, including a new irrigation system, replacing the soil around the track and the turf track, and adding new steward towers and rails.
The current racetrack at Doomben is 27 metres wide and has a circumference of 1715 metres. It is covered with Kikuyu grass turf type. The track front and the back straights are 320 metres long, while the turns are steep, making the track challenging, particularly for newcomers. The races on the track are run in a clockwise direction.
There are three training tracks on Doomben, located in the infield of the main racing track. The innermost track is 1550m wide and 14m in circumference; the second track is 1600m long and 17m in circumference, while the third outer track is 1650m.
The original grandstand at Doomben was built in 1932 before the construction of the race track. The grandstand was renovated in 1982. Presently, the grandstand is divided into a member’s stand and a public stand with venues including the Vo Rogue, Chief De Beers, Satchel, and Home Return Rooms, renovated in 2018.
Major Races At Doomben Racecourse
Doomben Racecourse is home to many notable races, including the 1200m Doomben 10,000 and the 2000m Doomben Cup. The BTC Cup was also held at Doomben Racecourse until 2017 when it was shifted to Eagle Farm Racecourse.
What is the Doomben Cup?
The Doomben Cup is a Group 1, 2000m thoroughbred horse race reserved for horses aged three and above with weight for age conditions. The race was held for the first time in 1933. Today it is a part of the Queensland Winter Carnival and has prize money of A$1,000,000.