The Eagle Farm Racecourse is a horse racing venue in Brisbane, Queensland, in the suburbs of Ascot. The facility is regarded to have great historic value and has been listed in the Queensland Heritage Register since 2004. Located very close to the Brisbane Business District, the Eagle Farm Racecourse is one of the region’s two prime horse racing venues, the other one being the Doomben Racecourse, which is also located close by.
Here are some valuable insights into the history of the Eagle Farm Racecourse, its physical attributes, and its facilities.
History of Eagle Farm Racecourse
Horse racing in Brisbane has its roots in the 1800s during the early settlement, when the first settlers, punters, and avid horse racing fans would gather for unregistered horse races, most of which were conducted on a track by the creek in Albion Park.
The Eagle Farm Racecourse was opened to the public in 1863 after the basic racecourse at what is known today as the New Farm Park was closed the same year. Two years later, the Queensland Turf Club was established in 1865. Since its establishment, the Eagle Farm Racecourse has been the home of the Queensland Turf Club and the other racing club Tattersall.
The racecourse’s grandstands, the Paddock Stands, were built in 1889-1890. They were a result of joint efforts of architects Leslie Hunter, Leslie Corrie, who was also the mayor of Brisbane in 1902, and John H. Buckeridge. The trio also designed the sheds and the stables of the racecourse. Most of the Victorian and ensuing Federation Heritage, which was one of the greatest of its times, has been preserved.
Meanwhile, 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. The Albion Park site later became a harness horse racing facility.
In 1941, the military took the Eagle Farm Racecourse for the ongoing war, and the authorities used the venue to accommodate troops from the USA during the Pacific War. The racecourse was referred to as the US Camp Ascot during that time. American service members lived in igloos on the racetrack, and the races were moved to Albion park for the time being.
In 1997, the Brisbane Amateur Racing Club was retitled the Brisbane Turf Club. In 2009, the Brisbane Turf Club and the Queensland Turf Club merged to form the Brisbane Racing Club and manage the growing competition between the two clubs, which resulted in losses for the Brisbane Turf Club.
Over the years, some of the finest thoroughbreds of Australasia have raced at the historic Eagle Farm Racecourse. The prestigious names to have graced the venue include the mighty Tulloch, one of the finest Australian race horses, and Rough Habit, the famous Kiwi sprinter, among many other renowned names. Today, the Eagle Farm is home to some of the most prestigious races held in Queensland, including the Queensland Derby, Queensland Oaks, etc.
Eagle Farm Racecourse Facilities
The Eagle Farm Racecourse is located adjacent to the Doomben Racecourse. The turf track at the venue has a width of 28 metres, and a circumference of 2027 metres, while the home straight is 434 metres. Races at the track are run in a clockwise direction.
The charming grounds of the Eagle Farm feature historic but well-preserved Victorian and Federation heritage buildings. The grandstands’ construction comprises timber and wrought iron, while the ornate iron gates, betting auditoriums, and pillars at the venue give the racecourse a charming vintage vibe.
The Eagle Farm Racecourse features world-class facilities and has around 35 function venues that were refurbished a while back and used for different events. In 2014, the racecourse was closed for a renovation project, including the relocation of the stable facilities and on-course training to the track infield. This was the first of its kind and set a new standard for other racecourses.
The Eagle Farm Racecourse infield comprises training facilities, stables to accommodate 400 horses, pedestrian tunnels, members’ car park, maintenance facilities, and an entry pavilion. The racecourse opened in 2016 after renovation, but problems ensued from the onset. Consequently, the racetrack was renovated, and racing resumed at Eagle Farm in December 2018. Afterward, further facilities were added to the site, including bars, retail outlets, etc.
Major Races At Eagle Farm Racecourse
The Eagle Farm Racecourse is home to numerous Groups and listed races. Its racing calendar features 5 Group I races, 6 Group II, and 5 Group III races. The Group I races include the Queensland Derby, Queensland Oaks, Stradbroke Handicap, The TJ Smith, and Winter Stakes.
The most valuable of these races is the Stradbroke Handicap. The 1600m race has a purse worth A$1.5 million and was first run in 1890. Next on the list are the 2400m Queensland Derby and 1600m TJ Smith, both of which have prize money of A$1 million.