Saturday, November 8, 2008

Avondale Sports Day, January 1887

Close to the Auckland Anniversary date, and on the day itself, Aucklanders in the 19th century not only got out onto the water in the Waitemata Harbour regattas, they also held sports days in various districts. Avondale was no exception, and their organised sports days stretch back to at least the early 1870s (the paddock belonging to George Thomas of the Star Mill used, between what is now Crayford and St Jude Streets in the heart of Avondale's shopping centre).

What is interesting about the following article is that the sports day was held on John Bollard's farm, part of which forms the Ash Street half of the Avondale Racecourse -- and they held horse races, although on a small scale, that day. As this was 1887, this event would have been one of the earliest, if not the earliest, known instances of horse racing on this particular part of Avondale, and predates, of course, the Jockey Club which formed in 1889-1890.

From the Auckland Evening Star, 29 January 1887:

The local sports for the districts of Avondale, Mount Albert, and Henderson were held to-day in Mr. Bollard's paddock at Avondale, when there was a good attendance. The events, which were of the most interesting character, were under the control of the following gentlemen: Judges, Messrs J. Kelly and J. Bollard; Starters, Messrs. J. Archibald and G. Thomas; Clerk of the Course, Mr. J. Potter; Clerk of the Scale, Mr. H. Peck. Mr. A Beetham, the energetic Secretary, was also present, and it is owing to that gentleman's exertions that the sports were so successful.

Foot Race (100 yds) -- Wood (scratch, 1; Ramsbottom, 2; Potter, 3.
200 Yards (under 14) -- Only two entered. E. Wood won the prize of 15s.
Extra Race (boys under 14) -- Six started. P. Burke, 1st, 5s; J. Burns, 2nd, 2s 6d.

Horse Races

Hurdle Race -- Handicap Hurdles of £5. Six horses started. Mr. J. Gordon's No Name, 1; Mr. J. Stewart's Lady Alice. 2. Won hands down.
Pony Race, 1 mile. -- First prize, £2. Height, 14h, 2in. Ten entries -- Mr. Hazard's Kitty, 1; Mr. Stewart's Little Minnie, 2."

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