An Event of Note in Gayndah is the Gayndah Cup
The Gayndah Cup has total prize money of $7000, with the first prize being $4550 and second past the post receiving $1400. The horses race over a distance of 1400 metres, on a true country track. The race is an open handicap race.
Large crowds are drawn to the annual running of the Gayndah Cup. The event takes place at the historic Gayndah racecourse, and is accompanied by a full street parade. The occasion is part of Orange Festival and is an entire weekend of celebrations.
The Gayndah Racecourse was established in the mid-1850s to replace a track established nearby in 1852. Queensland’s first Derby race was held there in 1868 and the course is still in regular use for horse racing.
Horse Racing Rooted in Gayndah
In 1852, the year that Gayndah was officially gazetted as a town, a public meeting was held at the Burnett Arms in Gayndah to organise the setting up of a track for horse racing. £100 was collected and a suitable area at the edge of town selected. The winning post was set up midway between two hotels, the Burnett Arms and the Corinth Arms, which were about two and a half miles apart. The first race was held on 30 June 1852. It was a three-day event with racing on the first and third days for prizes in excess of £100. This track was used for a few years before the current and more level site nearby replaced it, probably in 1855 or 1856.
As a horseracing track, established in the 1850s during the first phase of free European settlement in Queensland, the Gayndah Racecourse is evidence for the importance and early development of the sport. Horse races were amongst the first organised sporting events in Australia and served as both a recreation and for the furtherance of horse breeding. This was important in an era when horses were used for transport, industry and warfare as well as for recreation. The first Derby held in Queensland was held on this track in 1868.
The Gayndah Cup
Horseracing, and in particular country horse racing in Australia has become so much more than just an equestrian event; it is now a complete social occasion, resplendent with celebrity attendance, haute couture exhibitions, and significant prize money. It is not only at Gayndah, and the Orange Festival’s Gayndah Cup that the country racing scene has become a social occurrence, but all over Australia these races are proving popular.
Internet access is spreading, and more of these races are becoming accessible all the time. Huge amounts are wagered on the horse races in Australia, and modern sports books grant everyone access to this world, a world of wins, places, and trifectas, where the prospect of financial rewards is just a click away. Nevertheless, the Gayndah Racecourse, and indeed, the Gayndah Cup and Orange Festival as well, are important for their social value not only to Jockey Club members, trainers, owners and jockeys, but also for generations of race goers from all walks of life, both in the surrounding area and from further afield.