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I am grateful to Alanah Buck for rhe detailed history of the former racecourse.

In the March of 1868, it was proposed by members of the local racing community that an annual horse race be held in the Canning district and the first race meeting was duly held on 6th May in that year.  Land owned by James Roe, a steward and secretary of the WA Turf Club, was chosen as the site of the new course and subsequently named Canning Park.  A committee to oversee the race meetings was formed and consisted of some prominent individuals in the colony including Mr S.R Hamersley, Mr H Martin and Mr W Foster.  It was agreed by the committee that no horses trained for racing at the main Perth racecourse, Ascot, would be eligible to run on the fledgling Canning Park course. The racecourse was situated approximately 3-4 miles from the nearby Darling Range escarpment.  The land the course occupied later became the Kenwick Pioneer Cemetery. A railway spur ran from the nearby Maddington station to the racecourse, to ferry patrons from all parts of the metropolitan area.

Local Patrons Mr S.R Hamersley, Mr H Martin, Mr W Foster
Principal Races Canning Stakes, Canning Doncaster, Canning Cup

As resources were in short supply, it meant that facilities were limited at the course and no grandstand or judges’ box were initially built.  The first meetings were held annually, around Christmas time, and then closer to 1900 they became fortnightly events and extensive renovations to the course were duly carried out to improve the racing experience for all involved.  By the mid-1890s, extensive refurbishment of the course included the creation of a saddling paddock, which contained forty stalls and two loose boxes, a parade ring and exercise ring for the horses.  Patrons to the course were also catered for, and new structures included a members stand with bars, toilets and luncheon rooms.  A casualty room for those injured in action was also included.  The administrators of the course were treated to a new judge’s box, which must have been a welcome addition as, previously, judges had to carry out their duties from the back of a dray!  A steward’s box and enclosure were also added.  Later provisions were made for the parking of vehicles on course along with cloakrooms for the ladies and kiosks for refreshments.  A building for the totaliser was constructed for the betting public.  To enhance the course’s overall aesthetic appeal, an artificial lake was created in the middle of the course.

Four races were held on the initial 1868 programme and the first race, a maiden plate at 1 mile and the distance, worth £10, was won by Mr Dillon’s brown mare Maid of Erin.  The main race was the Canning Stakes, run over 2 miles and worth £15, was won by Mr Hamersley’s horse Greedy.  A pony race rounded out the programme.  A well attended ball was held after the day’s sport.  The early race programmes at Canning Park track usually consisted of four flat races and concluded with a pony or hack race.

By the mid 1920’s, Canning Park race meetings were sometimes held at the Goodwood course as a result of issues with the condition of track and access to the venue.  By the 1940’s many of the meetings continued to be held at the Goodwood track.  However, Major races held at the Canning Park track included the Canning Stakes, Canning Doncaster and the Canning Cup, a 1 mile 3 furlongs event worth 50 sovereigns in 1893.  Good horses that raced on the course included Cueesun, a dual Perth Cup winner, Second Wind, winner of the WA Derby and 2nd in the 1930 Melbourne Cup, Telephone winner of the 1888 Perth Cup, Desert Hero winner of the Railway Stakes 1935, and Will ‘O’ The Wisp, Railway Stakes winner in 1891.

The Second World War brought an end to racing at Canning Park and the last meeting at the course was held in June 1942.  Following the war, the WA Turf Club took control of Canning Park in 1946 and the course was subsequently acquired by the WA government in 1949.  After a hiatus of a number of years, the course was eventually re-developed into the Maddington industrial estate in the 1960’s.  The only clue to the existence of the old course is an avenue of sugar gum trees which are still present and are thought to have lined the entrance to the racecourse.

Course today The former racecourse is now a Maddington Industrial Estate.
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

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