History of the Club

The written records held by the club, dated from 1945, are somewhat spasmodic and rather sketchy. Records exist (Courtesy of the Adelaide Observer) of a race meeting being held in 1891, one year after Oodnadatta was founded.

Race Day

Other records tell of the 1922 Oodnadatta Cup. This was run over one and a half miles for a 50 pound stake and a 25 guinea trophy. The results of this race were as follows:

1st Place:     BARDUS, owned by Mr. M Rasheed and ridden by ‘Brick’ Brady

2nd Place:  KALINTA

3rd Place:   FIELD GLAS

BARDUS paid a dividend of three shillings and four pence halfpenny for a two shilling and sixpence investment.


Chairman: Mr. Ernest Kempe     Secretary: K Bolan     Treasurer:  Not recorded.

In 1945 the Oodnadatta Sports Club was disbanded and the Oodnadatta Race Club was formed. Full membership in 1945 was 15 shillings , or the equivalent of $1.50, for gentlemen. Ladies received membership for free. There appears to have been some lively discussion that year amongst the committee over minimum weight to be carried. At that time it was 11 stone (70 kilos) for all races other than hack races which were 12 stone (75.5 kilos). Suggested penalties for a win ranged from 3 pounds (1.5 kg) to 7 pounds (3.5 kg). All horses were to be strictly grain fed.


Patron: Mrs. Brown      Chairman: Mr. Ernest Kempe      Secretary/Treasurer: Mr. J Palmer

This appears to have been the first year in which the Oodnadatta Cup was held, but with a stake of three guineas ($6.30) it was by no means the main race of the meeting. The Flying Handicap and The Victory Handicap (first meeting after the end of the Second World War) both drew a stake of four guineas ($8.40). There was a motion that all runners be in colours. There is a charming minute about the meeting being adjourned for one hour for a church service.


Patron: Mrs. Brown     Chairman: Mr. Ernest Kempe     Secretary/Treasurer: Mr. J Palmer

Whilst the ladies could still enjoy free membership, membership fees had risen to one pound ten shillings ($3.00). Catering was an issue in 1947 as nobody was willing to take on that task. Some of the runners were Flood Bird, Grey Tail, Popeye and Pop Gun, all well known names at the time. Other stand outs included Palmolive, Solyptol and Beauty Spot (surely her stable name was ‘Lux!’)


Chairman: The Presbyterian Padre ‘Skipper’ Partridge     Secretary/Treasurer: J Coverdale.

Station names began appearing on the programme for the first time,  no doubt as a result of the donations received and with the hope that others would follow suit. A lady was elected on to the committee for the first time on record. Her name was Miss Molly Breadon of Todmorden Station.


The date for the 1950 meeting was set for the King’s birthday weekend, however one week beforehand, probably due to seasonal conditions, the meeting was postponed until mid July. Eighteen radio telegrams were sent out at a cost of 36 shillings ($6.60) and five ordinary telegrams at ten shillings and ten pence($1.10) advising horse owners and important guests of the change.


Membership fees increased to two guineas ($4.20) and patrons were asked to bring their own food whilst the club provided hot water, tea and sugar. An insurance policy costing six pounds five shillings was taken out to cover all jockeys.


The drought was getting worse and most stations felt they could not supply any starters other than a few corn fed horses until at least five weeks after a general rain.  As the season was so bad, the race date was planned six weeks after a general rain. A pianist was engaged for the dance. Apparently the meeting was finally held in October and ran at a loss of 47 pounds two shillings and five pence ($94.24).


The drought had finally broken, the meeting was scheduled for April and it was held on time. It was proposed at this time that the meeting become registered instead of just a picnic meeting, but the motion lapsed for want of support. The Gymkhana was held on Sunday.

1955 Cup Winner

1955 Oodnadatta Cup Winner ‘Sunspar’ Bob & Rona Kempe with John Kemp, Jockey Rollo Sevrin
Note : Left hand side Sir George Jenkins



Four hundred tickets at five pounds ($10.00) were sold in a Holden Utility Raffle and although there were no records to show what profit was made, presumably it was substantial. Raffles were not legal at that time and the minutes state that “four hundred people will be invited to attend a luncheon for which each will pay five pounds.” They all received a nice little printed ticket for attending.


There are no records for this year, but the club again ran a raffle, this time for a Peugeot car  which was won by Robyn Kempe of Mt Barry,  at that time a very small girl.


A ‘Mr. J Field’ complained of the lack of supplies for eating and drinking, other than beer.

Eight races per day were introduced:

Day 1
Allandale Maiden
Evelyn Downs Maiden
Young Handicap
Stuart Creek Open Trial
Mt Willoughby Handicap
Todmorden Improvers
Welbourn Hill Handicap

Day 2
Nilpinna Open Trial
Hotel Handicap
E J Brown Novice
Anna Creek Handicap
Oodnadatta Cup
Birthday Welter
Mt Clarence Consolation


Jockey J Hunter complained of interference in past races and was supported by Jockey W Greenwood. It was claimed that the stewards were not performing their jobs properly. Brad Russell had no control over his horse.


Complaints were again made that the stewards were not doing their job properly. A competition for a colt foal by ENGRAVER was conducted, with tickets being one pound each.


A credit balance of 195 pounds was recorded. The question of the club’s rights to use government land was to be investigated.


Mr. John Kempe was made a life member of the club, the only one we can find recorded. Champion Motors supplied, at a price, a Land Rover to be raffled for the following year and tickets were $2.00 each.


From the money raised over the race weekend, $200.00 was donated to the A.I.M. and $500.00 to the R.F.D.S. It was unanimously agreed that a door be swung on the men’s toilet. The committee was still hoping that it would be done before the 1991 meeting. It seems men feel as defenceless as women with their pants down! The ‘tote’ had apparently not been operating for some years due to a change in the Rules of Racing, but moves were afoot to reinstate it for the following year. Membership was raised to $5.00 for gents and $3.00 for ladies. Day tickets were $2.00 and $1.00 respectively. Obviously Women’s Lib was still only embryonic but the writing was on the wall with women no longer admitted free.

1969 Cup Winner
1969 Oodnadatta Cup Winner ‘Starnet’

Cup Winner 1969

1969 Oodnadatta Cup Winner ‘Starnet’ Owner Mr Ian Rankin, holding Starnet Jockey Jim Bedford, presenting is Mr George Birchmore


For the first time it was proposed to pipe the  town water supply to the course. (This may have happened in 1981) Membership became $6.00 for gents and $4.00 for ladies.


Robin Greenwood was given an inscribed gift from the committee for diligence in selling member’s tickets and raffles over several years. Down pipes and guttering were to be erected from the grandstand to the tank. Members tickets became $7.00 and $5.00 with a free race book thrown in.


Gross receipts for the 1977 meeting were about $8,500.00. Membership fees were to be raised to $12.00 which included the Sunday barbeque. Women’s Lib. was to the fore at last, for the $12.00 fee applied to both sexes. The Racing Club and Gymkhana Fund amalgamated and became the ‘Oodnadatta Racing & Gymkhana Club’.


Income from the 1978 meeting was a record $15,156. Members felt the two furlong flutter should be deleted from the gymkhana programme because of the danger of a serious accident due to the utter fearlessness coupled with lack of judgment of the young riders.


As in previous years, the definition of ‘local bred’ was questioned but in the interest of improved breeding strains it remains as ‘foaled, but not necessarily sired in the district’. $1,000 each was given to the A.I.M. & the R.F.D.S.


Obviously not everybody considered Oodnadatta as the end of the earth!  Peter Pilarek, a stalwart of the tote office for many years, travelled up from Port Augusta for the race meeting. $2000 was given to the R.F.D.S. aeroplane appeal and $500 for the hospital.


Despite a successful meeting with gross receipts of $17,000 rumours persisted that this would be the last Oodnadatta Race Club meeting.


The Pastoral Cup was introduced for the first time for open horses. This cup was taken back to Marree by Reg Dodd and ‘Rulers Retreat’. The Oodnadatta Cup was won by 14 year old ‘Pale Face’ in magnificent style and was a credit to his young trainer Rodney Fullarton. Sadly one of Rodney’s horses had to be destroyed after breaking a leg in the last race. This is the first time anyone remembers this happening. A new toilet block was built.


A motorbike raffled and won by ‘Crackers’ Kraenhbull was donated back for auction. The trophy stand was erected and various charities were the recipients of $5,500. Moves were made to make the Pastoral Cup as prestigious as the Oodnadatta Cup which was for locally bred horses, but the general feeling was that the Oodnadatta Cup should remain the premier event. George Birchmore was awarded life membership of the club, for services to racing in the area over main years. Our records show only one previous life membership had been awarded, so they were not easily come by. Gross income was $22,959 but rumours continued that the club would not be able to survive.


Robin Greenwood retired as secretary after many years of devoted service. She was replaced by Jill Napier with Krystal Williams being elected treasurer. Professional jockeys would be eligible to ride, but as it turned out, all major races were won by locals.

1986 – Jubilee 150 Year

The ‘Creche’ area had arrived. Mobile starting gates were used for all open races, for the first time in the north. Life memberships were awarded to Robin Greenwood, Bob Burgess and Roly Millhinch. Mr. Greg owned by ‘Boof’ Smith of New Crown won his third cup in a row. He was ridden by Gary Birchmore in the time of 2.12. Starting stalls purchased from Mt Gambier and used for the first time were very successful.

A camel race was introduced to the gymkhana programme and proved very successful. Whether for curiosity or loyalty, visitors from as far afield as Millicent, Mt Gambier, Coonalpyn, Quorn and Adelaide arrived to help boost the crowd. The takings were a record $34,000 gross.


A roller was purchased for upgrading the track. A steward’s stand and new tote building were built during working bees, thanks to a large number of new, young and enthusiastic members.


The club purchased a cold box. Thirty two people attended a two day busy bee making light work of the improvements. The Saturday night was given to local organisations to raise funds. A donation was given to the Progress Association to erect a new cemetery fence.

The Sunday Gymkhana and Monday Races were abandoned due to rain, however most patrons filled in their time admirably.

The gymkhana was finally held with the Bronco Branding in July.


The Club finally came incorporated’. A new PA system was purchased making both the course broadcasting and general announcements much easier. The children’s play ground and sand pit areas were covered and extensively used by youngsters. A new lighting plant was purchased for use in 1990.

In excess of $7000 was donated to various charities.

1990 – Centenary Year

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