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Earliest Meeting: Easter Monday 1st April 1872
Final Meeting: Continues to operate as Oakbank
The South Australian town of Oakbank, boasting a population of less than 500, is located in Adelaide Hills to the east of the city of Adelaide. The town was founded in 1840 by James and Andrew Johnston, two Scots who had visited South Australia in 1839 and who named it after Oakbank, their home town in Scotland. It is rumoured that they planted an acorn from which an oak tree grew, that oak can still be seen on the main road in the town. They liked what they saw and within 5 years they had formed the J & A G Johnston Brewery, tapping into the underground spring which was fed by the Onkaparinga River.  Racing has taken place in the town since Easter Monday 1st April 1872, although it was known as Onkaparinga Races from this time, but since Monday 17th April 1876 has been known more commonly as Oakbank Races, with meetings taking place traditionally on Easter Monday at the Oakbank Easter Racing Carnival, the racecourse has hosted the Great Eastern Steeplechase. The inaugural running of the principal race at the track was won by Tormentor, but within a year in 1877 Darkie was victorious and managed to repeat the feat the next year in 1878. Between 1872 and 1876 the Onkaparinga Plate was the feature event, with early winners shown below. However, since then many great horses have gone on to gain back-to-back wins in the Great Eastern Handicap Steeplechase (full list of winners shown below), mostly recently in 2014 and 2015 when Lord of the Song was successful. During the Second World War the track closed and was used by the army, the Great Eastern Steeplechase switching to Victoria Park and Morphettville.

Local Patrons Oakbank Racing Club
Principal Races Great Eastern Steeplechase, Onkaparinga Plate, Onkaparinga Shorts

The first recorded meeting of the Onkaparinga Races took place on Easter Monday 1st April 1872 on the racecourse located in Messrs J and A G Johnston’s paddocks, who made it a fair course by removing logs, stumps and other obstacles. The course was easily accessible to all, being close to the main Woodside road on the edge of Oakbank. The principal race was the Onkaparinga Plate over 1 ½ miles, although another popular race at that time was the Onkaparinga Shorts.
Easter Monday 1st April 1872
Onkaparinga Plate (10 sovereigns) over 1 ½ miles

1. The Deer owned by Mr Mullins
2. Mercury owned by Mr J Johns
Onkaparinga Shorts
1. Mercury owned by Mr J Johns
2. Tall Boy owned by Mr B Robinson
3. Tommy Dodd owned by Mr J Powell
4. Darkie owned by Mr M Kain
5. Stag owned by Mr M Kain

Two years later the races were staged on Easter Monday 6th April 1874 when the feature Onkaparinga Plate (20 sovereigns) over 1 ½ miles saw Mr Mullins The Deer repeat his previous victory in the race at the expense of Patch (Mr Goldfinch) and Tormentor (Mr R Correll).
Easter Monday 29th March 1875
Onkaparinga Handicap Plate (30 sovereigns) over 2 miles

1. The Deer owned by Mr W Mullins
2. Wallaby owned by Mr H Goldfinch
3. The Don owned by Mr J Jackson
4. Darkie owned by Mr T O’Leary

In 1876 the racecourse introduced the forerunner of the Great Eastern Handicap Steeplechase, the Onkaparinga Handicap Steeplechase over 2 ½ miles and 8 four feet jumps, although at that time it was worth less than the Onkaparinga Cup.
Easter Monday 17th April 1876
Onkaparinga Handicap Steeplechase (20 sovereigns) over 2 ½ miles and 8 flights

1. Tormentor owned by Mr R Correll
2. Lansdown owned by Mr E G Blackmore
3. Rainbow owned by Mr J Jackson
4. Angas owned by Mr H Bickford
Onkaparinga Cup (25 sovereigns) over 2 miles
1. Nightingale owned by Mr J Jackson
2. Shylie Bawn owned by Mr W Sinclair
3. Barnum owned by Mr J Jackson

The photos on this page, although in the public domain, are shown courtesy of the State Library of South Australia.

Racing is administered by the Oakbank Racing Club, currently chaired by John Glatz, and the Onkaparinga Racing Club have also organised meetings in the area.

Such has been the success over the years of the Oakbank Easter Racing Carnival that in 2009 they extended their programme to include a meeting on 14th March 2009 billed as Oakbank Prelude Raceday. The track continues to operate successfully, with crowds of over 70,000 attending the Easter Monday Meeting.
Onkaparinga 1975.JPG (16553 bytes)

Great Eastern Handicap Steeplechase winners
(Full details of every race on request)

1876 Tormentor
1877 Darkie
1878 Darkie
1879 Lightfoot
1880 Gunn
1881 Trigger
1882 Hotspur
1883 Depriver
1884 Trigger
1885 Swordfish
1886 Charcoal
1887 Swordfish
1888 Adeline
1889 Flashlight
1890 Mahdi
1891 Messenger
1892 Vistula
1893 Shanks
1894 The Actress
1895 Waterloo
1896 Dungan
1897 Eclipse
1898 Songster
1899 Domino
1900 Euro
1901 Wooral
1902 Ronald
1903 Drummer
1904 Syringa
1905 Poster
1906 Bombastes
1907 Napier
1908 Tarpon
1909 Workmaster
1910 Generality
1911 Matchlock
1912 Vanguard
1913 Tramp
1914 Vanguard
1915 Tramp
1916 Wyndarra
1917 Flash Jack
1918 Doiran
1919 Doiran
1920 Miss Rosslyn
1921 Albaree
1922 Doiran
1923 Doiran
1924 Fleetstone
1925 Dundalk
1926 Mount Cooper
1927 Unohoo/Mount Cooper dead-heat
1928 Epergne
1929 Laurelmond
1930 Woomera
1931 Shooting Boy
1932 Archeson
1933 Pispoia King
1934 Kenjin
1935 Kingstol
1936 Gnair
1937 Lady Madge
1938 Meeting abandoned
1939 Grantley
1940 Bully Hayes
1941 National Debt
1942 Race not held due to Second World War
1943 Race not held due to Second World War
1944 Lime Rock
1945 Winterset
1946 Ajester
1947 Marble Hill
1948 The Feline
1949 Footling
1950 Parilla’s Pride
1951 Footling
1952 Royal Pentzia
1953 Gulf Stream
1954 Lynford
1955 The Drum
1956 Teedum
1957 Just Mick
1958 Tory Star
1959 Sebago
1960 Peakite
1961 Moonacoota
1962 Grecian Valour
1963 Blue Gum
1964 First Shuffle
1965 Kooroshali
1966 Kooroshali
1967 Con Sol
1968 Robin Star
1969 Halbrian
1970 Mystic Moon
1971 Crusoe Cloud
1972 Club Spirit
1973 The Cent
1974 Club Spirit
1975 Vermet
1976 Aberfoyle
1977 The Champ
1978 Rough Neck
1979 Heroic Speech
1980 Lord Rocky Red
1981 Dark Shareif
1982 Donrewen
1983 Venite
1984 Headford Town
1985 Battle So Big
1986 Region
1987 Spring Fortune
1988 River Amos
1989 Brown Cast
1990 Commission Red
1991 Look At Me
1992 Vinchiamo
1993 Touch Judge
1994 Tyrolia
1995 Light Hand
1996 Light Hand
1997 Foxboy
1998 Turkey Lane
1999 Planet Hollywood
2000 Bruskin
2001 St Steven
2002 Ballata
2003 Raquets
2004 Boxter Blue
2005 Chakra
2006 Real Tonic
2007 Blasé
2008 Conzeal
2009 Pentacolo
2010 It’s A Dud
2011 Petushki
2012 Tobouggie Nights
2013 Man of Class
2014 Lord of the Song
2015 Lord of the Song
2016 Thubiaan
2017 Spying on You

Course today The course today continues to be highly successful.
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 johnwslusar@gmail.com

Much of the information about this course has been found using internet research and is in the public domain. However, useful research sources have been:-

London Illustrated News

Racing Illustrated 1895-1899

The Sporting & Dramatic Illustrated

Northern Turf History Volumes 1-4 by J.Fairfax-Blakeborough

The Sporting Magazine

A Long Time Gone by Chris Pitt first published in 1996 ISBN 0 900599 89 8

Racing Calendars which were first published in 1727

Onkaparinga 1975.JPG (16553 bytes) Onkaparinga 1975.JPG (16553 bytes) Onkaparinga 1975.JPG (16553 bytes) Onkaparinga 1975.JPG (16553 bytes)

ISBN 978-0-9957632-0-3

652 pages

774 former courses

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352 pages

400 former courses

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180 pages

140 former courses

ISBN 978-0-9957632-3-4

264 pages

235 former courses

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