The Fashion of Race track

By Ivor Jones

At the time of writing this piece, the Everest Race Meeting has just concluded and the Melbourne Cup is just around the corner.

Recently Bev Jordan (the Editor) and I were talking in Arthur’s café at Baulkham Hills about what I would write about for this issue amongst other things. I remarked that just a stone’s throw away from where we were sitting once stood a racetrack.

With that in mind, I thought I would see what I could find out about the racecourse.

About two years ago I wrote a piece on racecourses within our circulation area, but that piece concentrated on the Hawkesbury district.

The race track at Baulkham Hills was located behind a pub called the “Horse & Jockey” of which George Coulton was the licensee. The “Horse & Jockey” was situated on the corner of Seven Hills and Windsor Rds opposite the present location of the “Bull & Bush”.

I would imagine that George would see the takings over the bar of his hotel could be boosted by the establishment of a race track immediately behind the pub.

When you consider the high embankment leading down to what is now Yattenden Avenue and Yattenden Oval it would have provided a great vantage point for watching the horses galloping around the racecourse behind the pub which stood for quite a few years in the mid 1800s.

On the site of the present “Bull & Bush” stood the “Lamb and Lark” pub. Both the “Horse & Jockey” and the “Lamb & Lark”, were owned by Samuel Jenner whose wife Mary had inherited the properties from her brother James Pye III and her father also named James Pye.

In trying to find out more about the racecourse I contacted an old friend Pam Wilson of the Hills District Historical Society to see what information she could provide me with. She sent me a trove of information that had been published in the Society’s magazine prepared by researcher Ian Ibbett.

The material sent was much too long to publish on this page but it contained the following. Which has been edited for this article.

“Yattenden Oval was developed by Baulkham Hills Shire Council as a Rugby Union and Cricket field in John Street at Baulkham Hills in the late 1960s on the site of an old racecourse. Council named the field after “Yattendon”, a prize-winning racehorse of the 1860s, trained by Baulkham Hills sportsman Samuel Jenner.

The Randwick Derby was “Yattendon’s” only start in spring 1864. The horse had matured into a commanding specimen, dark brown, standing over sixteen hands, with a strong back and powerful hindquarters.

However, he had chronic bad feet and wasn’t capable of a long, sustained campaign during any part of his racing career. “Yattendon” next appeared in public at Randwick for the Randwick Grand Handicap run over two miles of the 1865 AJC Autumn Meeting in May and suffered his first defeat burdened by a heavyweight.

Nonetheless, during that week he had won St. Leger and Biennial Stakes.

Already beginning to fail in health, Samuel Jenner died at his Baulkham Hills home on Windsor Road on August 24th 1867, aged 57 years, after a long and painful illness.

The publication, Bell’s Life recorded that “Samuel Jenner had been a colonist for more than thirty years and was intimately connected to the NSW Turf with interests as a breeder, owner, importer and trainer of racehorses.”

I sincerely thank Pam Wilson, Ian Ibbett and the Hills District Historical Society for the speedy response to my request for information.


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