Harnessing the Past - Horsham Pacing Cup

Horsham Trotting Club was founded in March 1913 and held the subsequent staging of their inaugural race meeting on May 7th 1913 at the Horsham Showgrounds.

“This took place on Wednesday, and it met with unqualified success. The support from district owners was very good and the attendance of the public was very gratifying. The course was in splendid trim, the recent rains having softened it to a niceity.”

Six events were conducted on the “new showgrounds course” over varying distances from One Mile to One and a Half Miles, and saw 43 starters trot and pace with both riders and drivers.

The Novice Handicap with a purse of 8 sovereigns, saw the winner Tipit, disqualified by stewards after the race when his rider Mr. E. McRae failed to weigh in at the allocated 11 stone 10 pounds.

Trotting continued in Horsham from 1913 through to the early 1950’s in a stop and start manner due to the Great War, followed by the Great Depression of the 1930’s and finally World War II.

During this span of some 40 years, the Club conducted irregular daytime meetings on tracks at both the Showgrounds and Horsham Racecourse and a Trotting race was also programmed at the thoroughbred or “gallops” meetings throughout the Wimmera.

Night trotting came to Melbourne in late 1947 and the Horsham Club committee was keen to see the same happen locally.

By 1953 the newly formed Wimmera Trotting Club had raised in excess of 6000 pounds to make the dream a reality.

Opening night on Wednesday January 6th 1954 was the result of a mammoth community volunteer effort and saw 5500 people cram the Horsham Showgrounds to watch the spectacular racing action taking place under the ribbon of lights.

Still well-known surnames of Cozens, Lush, Exell, Maddern, McGennisken, Parish, Rothacker, McKay and Anyon featured as owners/trainers andor drivers, through the night and topline horses like Efficiency, Patsys Gift, Silver Pantherand Gentleman John introduced patrons to the host of greats that would grace the 3 and a half furlong Horsham circuit over the following 38 years.

By the late 80’s however, the showgrounds track and facilities were in dire need of a complete overhaul. A new 800 metre (minimum) circuit wasn’t possible on the current site and the Horsham Club was faced with extinction.

A lengthy battle ensued, firstly with Harness Racing Victoria, next with the local “Citizens Against The Relocation Of Harness Racing”  lobby group and finally to obtain racing industry funding and City Council approval for the proposed project.

The early ‘90’s saw the Club’s relocation to their new “state of the art” 1000 metre track, located on the shared facility at the Horsham Racing Centre.

On Tuesday May 12th 1992, the Club staged a 10 race program in front of a large crowd that refused to let cold and wet conditions dampen their enthusiasm.

Move forward to January 2016 and the contractors move in on the 11th immediately after the staging of the Horsham Club’s premier meeting on January 10th, which headlines the $70,000 Wimmera Mail Times Horsham Pacing Cup.