THE next meeting of the Kapunda Harness Racing Club on Monday will bring with it some nostalgia for history buffs, dedicated members and regular race-goers.
The club will be celebrating 70 years since its very first race day was held on March 11, 1947.
Current club president Paul Smith said it’s great to be a part of something with such a long and great history, and that he is looking forward to the fourth, and final, meeting for 2017.
“It is always a brilliant day,” he said.
“It’s a great family event, too, and it is school holidays, so, hopefully, we get a good turnout.”
Collated by past members, the history of the club begins with the formation of its first committee of 12 men, including local identities Tom Hansberry and Gerry Schluter, shortly after the war in 1945.
The group worked for 18 months to prepare 50 acres of Dutton Park, which was bequeathed to the Kapunda community by the late Sir Sydney Kidman for recreational use, to make it a suitable racing track.
The group filled in the creek, prepared a track, built horse stalls, erected an elaborate wood panel running rail and, by March 1947, the club’s opening meeting was ready to be held.
The day meeting was considered a great success and saw 105 horses compete, the majority arriving and departing on the horse train, some from interstate, the city and sidings in between.
Three meetings were held that first year, while, during the racing heydays of the 1950s through to the 1990s, more than 22 meetings could be held in one year, with takes of up to $20,000 and crowds of 3000 people attending.
With the installation of track lighting in the mid-’50s, Tuesday night racing became a popular event for years.
The club, now, races during daylight hours, with four race meetings held each season.
Its upcoming race day, on Monday, April 24, is due to start from 12.30pm, with $10,000 in prize-money up for grabs in each of the Pacing and Trotting Cups.