End of an era: Wallabadah races canned for good

Wallabadah Jockey Club will not race again. Photo: Northern Daily Leader.

The Wallabadah Jockey Club has been part and parcel of the North West racing scene since since 1852 and claim to be the oldest country racing track in Australia.

On the eve of their 170th anniversary meeting that was scheduled for January 1 2022, the club recently announced that they would not be hosting any more meetings, stating that their track did not meet Racing NSW standards. 

In an interview with Prime7 News North West, Club representative Tim Mackie said it was the undulating nature of the unique Wallabadah course that led Racing NSW to make the tough decision.

“If anyone has been here, they know what the up-hill, down-hill nature of the track is and due to that, country racing have had to make a decision,” Mackie said.

The country course has a nine-metre decline from its peak to the home straight, and according to the Prime7 News report, the NSW Jockey’s Association told racing NSW that jockeys were ‘reluctant to return’, which prompted an investigation by Racing NSW stewards that led to the track being deemed not suitable for ‘horse and rider’.

Wallabadah races in the early 1930s.

Mackie said it was disappointing to lose so much history, with Wallabadah considered the oldest country racing club in Australia, but he understood that the safety of jockeys and horses was Racing NSW’s main concern.

“This race meeting, in my opinion, has been a flag bearer for the history of horse racing and it’s unfortunate that it has come to this,” Mackie said.

“But we live in the modern world where workplace health and safety is paramount.”

NSW Country and Picnic Racing unsuccessfully reached out to Racing NSW for comment regarding the closure of Wallabadah.

The Wallabadah New Year’s Day meeting has since been moved to Tamworth.