Aintree racecourse;Ascot;Ayr;Bangor;Bath;Beverley;Brighton;Carlisle;Cartmel;Catterick;Cheltenham Festival;Chepstow;Chester;Doncaster St Leger;Epsom Derby;Exeter racecourse;Fakenham;Folkestone;Fontwell Park;Glorious Goodwood;Hamilton Park;Haydock Park;Hereford Racecourse;Hexham;Huntingdon;Kelso;Kempton Park;Leicester;Lingfield;Ludlow;Market Rasen;Musselburgh;Newbury Racecourse;Newcastle;Newmarket;Newton Abbot;Nottingham;Perth;Plumpton;Pontefract Racecourse;Redcar;Ripon;Salisbury;Sandown Park;Sedgefield;Southwell;Stratford;Taunton;Thirsk;Towcester;Uttoxeter;Warwick;Wetherby;Wincanton;Windsor;Wolverhampton;Worcester;Yarmouth;York Ebor

The New South Wales town of Bourke, on the south bank of the Darling River, lies in the north-west of the state almost 800 kilometres north-west of the state capital Sydney. A settlement first began in the vicinity of the present town in 1835 when the explorer Sir Thomas Mitchell arrived in the area. All was not well with the locals when he arrived, so he built a protective fort and called it Fort Bourke after the then Governor Richard Bourke. From that small beginning has grown a vibrant town with a current population in excess of 2,000 people. The town has its own racecourse, with racing recorded as early as the 1860s, although there have been long periods since when racing has lapsed. Today the Back O’Bourke races are administered by the Back O’Bourke Picnic Race Club which was founded in 2014 and held their inaugural meeting on Easter Sunday 5th April 2015. The principal race that day was the Harry Hart Memorial Cup, paying fond tribute to one of the town’s racing enthusiast Harry Hart. The meeting marked the first Picnic meeting in the town since 1969, but over a century before that Bourke held annual races.

Local Patrons Bourke Jockey Club, Back O'Bourke Picnic Race Club
Principal Races Central Australian Handicap Stakes, Bourke Steeplechase, Bourke Corinthian Cup

On Monday 21st October 1867 a newspaper reported and racing aficionado wrote of the annual 3 days of racing,’I was quite astonished at the quality of the horses, fit for any racecourse in the colony, and when I strolled to the racecourse, within walking distance of Colless’s Inn where I was staying, I was again surprised at the neat and strictly correct costumes of the riders, and their riding was not a whit behind their attire’.

By the 1870s the racecourse, a mile to the west of the town centre, was hosting the Great Central Australian Stakes over 3 miles during its 4 day meeting.
Wednesday 26th January 1870
Great Central Australian Stakes (80 sovereigns) over 3 miles

1. Physician owned by Mr Hugh Ferry and ridden by Ferry
2. Idea owned by Mr W Pallister and ridden by Draggett
3. Tagrag owned by Mr W Graham and ridden by Skillcorn

The next year the 4 day meeting ran from Monday 15th May to Thursday 18th May and, once again, featured the 3 mile Central Australian Handicap.
Monday 15th May 1871
Central Australian Handicap over 3 miles

1. Capsieum owned by Mr Williams
2. Physician owned by Mr Hugh Ferry
3. Why Not owned by Mr Henry Colless, owner of the stores and Inn

By 1872 Steeplechase races had become very popular in the town. On Wednesday 3rd April 1872 the Bourke Steeplechase, over 3 miles and 18 four feet high fences, was won by Mr A F Sullivan’s Sportsman, while the Bourke Corinthian Cup was also contested over 2 miles on the second day of the meeting.
Wednesday 3rd April 1872
Bourke Steeplechase (70 sovereigns) over 3 miles and 18 fences

1. Sportsman owned by Mr A F Sullivan and ridden by Sullivan
2. Rory owned by Mr S Smith and ridden by Smith
3. Cossack owned by Mr W W Davis and ridden by A Eckler
4. Chief Justice owned by Mr H Colless and ridden by Bell
Thursday 4th April 1872
Bourke Corinthian Cup (30 sovereigns) over 2 miles

1. Physician owned by Mr Hugh Ferry and ridden by Ferry
2. New Chum owned by Mr Colless
3. Alhambra owned by Messrs J & E Readford

During the next two years the Corinthian Cup and Steeplechase were the feature races of a varied card. On Tuesday 20th May 1873 the Williams Brothers Bolero beat Physician in the Corinthian Cup, while on Saturday 23rd May 1874 the Bourke Handicap Steeplechase saw Mr G F Sullivan’s Sportsman defeat Orphan, owned by Mr O Shannasay, while Mr Colless’s Bally died during the race.

At the April 1875 meeting the Central Australian Handicap and Bourke Handicap were the principal races.
Tuesday 20th April 1875
Central Australian Handicap over 3 miles

1. Duke of Wellington owned by Mr O Sproute and ridden by R Waterman
2. Bolero owned by the Williams Brothers and ridden by H Draggett
3. Joshua owned by Mr T D Bond and ridden by F Hill
Wednesday 21st April 1875
Bourke Handicap over 2 miles

1. Joshua owned by Mr T D Bond and ridden by R Waterman
2. Duke of Wellington owned by Mr O Sproute and ridden by Gilroy
3. Fanny owned by Mr B J Keighran

The Bourke Jockey Club administered races in 1877 when the feature race was the Central Australian Handicap. A 3 day steeplechase meeting was staged from Tuesday 10th to Thursday 12th April 1877.
Central Australian Handicap (300 sovereigns) over 2 miles
1. The Dove owned by Mr S Davis and ridden by Howlett
2. Greyskia owned by Mr S Davis and ridden by Hagen
3. Duke of Wellington owned by Mr O Sproute and ridden by Craig

Back O’Bourke Memorial Cup/Picnic Cup winners
2015 On Sunday 5th April the Back O’Bourke Open (Harry Hart Memorial Cup) worth $4,200 over 16oo metres was won by Darley (6/1) trained by Kylie Kennedy and ridden by A Barton, beating Teraset and Daley 8 ran
2016 On Sunday 27th March the Picnic Cup ($4,200) over 1600 metres was won by Right of Reply (5/2) trained by R C Robb abd ridden by Ms T Nikora, beating Bemiles and Cetabeel 4 ran
2017 On Sunday 16th April the Picnic Cup ($4,140) over 1600 metres was won by Security Code (8/15 fav) trained by R C Robb and ridden by Maddison Wright, beating Sergeant Bilko and Teraset 3 ran

Course today The recently rejuvenated 'Back O'Bourke' meeting goes from strength to strength.
If you have photos, postcards, racecards. badges, newspaper cuttings or book references about the old course, or can provide a photo of how the ground on which the old racecourse stood looks today, then email

ISBN 978-0-9957632-0-3

652 pages

774 former courses

ISBN 978-0-9957632-1-0

352 pages

400 former courses

ISBN 978-0-9957632-2-7

180 pages

140 former courses

ISBN 978-0-9957632-3-4

264 pages

235 former courses

Copies of the above books are only available by emailing stating your requirements, method of payment (cheque payable to W.Slusar) or Bank transfer, and the address where the book(s) should be sent.
Download an order form
  Quantity Cost
Volume 1 North of Hatfield £19.99 + £4 postage    
Volume 2 South of Hatfield £14.99 + £3 postage    
Volume 3 Wales & Scotland £9.99 + £3 postage    
Volume 4 Ireland £9.99 + £3 postage    
Volumes 1 - 4 £54.96 + £5 postage    
Postage & Packaging    
Email order form to