Control Data Australia Memories compiled by Brian Membrey


Courses For Horses - Mentone

Mentone was a proprietary course established in 1888, later becoming a registered track under the auspices of the Mentone Turf Club.

The course was situated on 156 acres of land to the west of today's Moorabbin Airport, bordered on the north by Second Avenue and to the east by Bundoora Parade and is now regarded as the Mentone Racecourse Housing Estate.

Notes in 1890 suggest a grandstand with the whole of the hill slope approaching it planted with pines and colonial figs.

A decision by the V R C in 1905 to reduce the number of Victorian race meetings from 102 to 79 a year had a dramatic effect on the closely-grouped Mentone, Epsom at Mordialloc and Aspendale racecourses where race meetings were cut to five a year at each track.

As a minor recompense, an additional training track was added to the course in 1911 because of the number of horses trained in the area with  in the general district and the V R C providing £1000 towards the cost.

The early course featured an extensive wooden grandstand which was destroyed by fire in September, 1925.

Other than the rather weird “one-off” at Pirron Yallock, the first totalizator meeting in Victoria was anticipated to be at Mentone where the club who were aiming to have their New Lightning Automatic Totalisator Company installation ready for a meeting on June 10, 1931, but after an inspection by a Government team led by Chief Secretary Tom Tunnecliffe , a number of faults were found, and although the club suggested they would take a fortnight to remedy, their tote was still not operational for their next meeting on June 30.

(The club at that time were allocated just five Saturday meetings and their hopes of being the first to operate a tote in Melbourne were quickly overtaken by the four major clubs).

Large parts of the course were re-modelled in 1936 with new fencing, landscaping and a car park, the latter essential as Mentone always suffered from convenient public transport with Mentone Station some kilometer and a half from the track.

During the Second World War, major tracks at Caulfield and Williamstown were taken over by the Defence Department, as were smaller venues at Epsom and Ascot, but Mentone continued to operate, although meetings were cut to seven per year in line with the general tightening of racing.

The course however did not survive severe cutbacks as part of the rationalization of the racing industry following the War and the final meeting was held at Mentone on 24 July 1948.  

Mentone was always a great wet weather track because of its sandy loam base because of the sandy loam which was also easy on the legs of horses and it remained a popular training track from 1948 until 1972 when the land was sold for housing.

The former Mentone course, now the Mentone Racecourse and Lake Reserve in Glenelg Drive.

Nearby, Chicquita Park commemorates a famous racemare, winner of 16 races and second in both the Caulfield and Melbourne Cup. Coincidentally, she was trained by Tony Lopes, noted when a noble steed named “Tab” won the Ardcounsel Hurdle at Moonee Valley on 28 April, 1962. Tony Lopes claimed the horse had been so-named because he was an ardent supporter of the off-course system.