History of Otago Racing Club
The Otago Racing Club began as the Dunedin Jockey Club whose greatest difficulty faced in establishing racing in Dunedin was finding a suitable and convenient course. From 1862 to 1868 the Otago Jockey Club (a body that hardly qualified for the title) ran the racing, including the first New Zealand Champion Race, at Silverstream in 1863. This race offered the first £1,000 stake in New Zealand racing, and it was added to a sweepstake of 100 sovereigns. It was run over three miles at weight-for-age and was won by H. Redwood's four-year-old mare, Ladybird, from Mormon, regarded as the best horse in Australia.
The Dunedin Jockey Club was formed in 1869 after the Otago Jockey Club became defunct. It raced for one season at Silverstream. About 1869 it gained a lease of Forbury Park, Dunedin, and formed a course there. Racing began in 1871 and continued until 1898. In 1887 the club bought Wingatui, near Mosgiel, and transferred there in 1899. A Dunedin Cup was run by the Otago Jockey Club in 1867 and 1868. The present race dates from 1874 when H. Redwood's Lurline was the winner, ridden by R. J. Mason, who later became most successful as the trainer for G. G. Stead. The Champagne Stakes, established in 1878, has Carbine, as well as other distinguished horses, in its list of winners. Likewise, the James Hazlett Gold Cup in which Limerick, Nightmarch, Silver Ring, Royal Chief, Defaulter, and Kindergarten are among those successful. In the early 1880s the New Zealand and the Dunedin Cups each carried a stake of £1,000 and were the medium of heavy wagering. At that time Otago had more clubs and more racing days than any other province.
‘From Encyclopaedia New Zealand 1966’
The Otago Racing Club now hosts fifteen race days each year with fourteen of these at the Wingatui course and its now-famous event in Cromwell, Central Otago each November. In addition, Wingatui is home to the crowd-pleasing Melbourne Cup Day races.
The success of the venue has assisted the development of a strong thoroughbred breeding and training community around the track further consolidating Wingatui as a premium racing destination.
The facility also now houses the Wingatui Function Centre which combines the open pristine venue with a desirable facility for weddings, meetings, and other occasions, serviced by professionals to make your event a success