Compiled for OzSportsHistory by Brian Membrey
Courses For Horses -
It opened in April, 1891, the property of a well-
Crooke followed a family tradition of racing, his father James E. Crooke on January 15, 1849, winning the Flemington Cup with Belzoni and collecting a silver cup which was presented by Mr. James Dunbar. This is believed to have been the first cup race run in Victoria and some historians believe that the name of the race was later changed to the "Melbourne Cup".
The trophy is known to have been lent to the Melbourne Museum in 1935 by Robert's son, Dr Cyril Crooke, a Preston physician, its' fate thereafter unknown.
“Robert” Crooke was a prominent sportsman -
At the time plans were announced, it was noted that Aspendale Park was close to the beach and about a mile and a half from Mordialloc Station, but by the time the course opened, there was an Aspendale Park Racecourse platform, noted as about 16 miles from Melbourne and 30 minutes by special train.
The track was nine furlongs in circumference, one chain (66 feet) wide and with banked turns; course facilities included the usual grandstand, weigh-
Robert Crooke’s infatuation with motor cars saw the Automobile Club of Victoria held its first automobile demonstration at Aspendale Park of 20 February, 1904 with 35 cars travelling from Melbourne along with an unknown number of motorcycles; the club were the organizers of the later race meeting at Sandown.
In 1906 a motor raceway was constructed, promoted as Australia’s "first commercial track", although only one meeting was ever held A banked motor racing track was constructed in 1923, but by 1930 had again soon fell into disuse, despite one meeting early in 1929 when speedway racing was in its heyday attracting a crowd of 15,000 to watch a contest between a motor cycle rider and a low-
Horse racing ceased at Aspendale Park, the last meeting on 29 July, 1931 with the course continuing to be used for training purposes
Motor racing resumed with the Light Car Club of Australia taking up a lease in December, 1937 after the local council banned events on Phillip Island Plans were for the track to re-
The course continued to be used as a private track by well-
The Griffiths family retained the property until February, 1951 when plans for its sale and sub-
There is just a hint today of the area's original use with some of the streets bearing the names of horses or racing personalities of the time including Robertson Parade, Marabou Place & Gothic Road -
Taking The Train
The Victorian Railways Commissioner's report on revenue for the year ended 30 June, 1893 gives an interesting guide as to the relative popularity of the various courses which had their own railway station (figures for Mentone and Epsom are impossible to determine given their inclusion in the commuter network
James R. Crooke, pictured in 1904 after winning what is believed to be Victoria’s first motor race. Crooke if the lead, eventually winning by five seconds.