The Horse’s Mouth


Oz Sports History



One of several racecourses that derived its name from a famous English track (Epsom Downs), Epsom was established on the south-eastern corner of Boundary Road and White Street in Mordialloc, immediately south of today's Woodlands Golf Club.  
The site is easily identifiable with most of the streets named after horses trained on the track - Gala Supreme, Arwon, Hall Mark and Pooley Bridge and other smaller  streets, jockeys - Reys, Hyland and Purtell, and Jack Holt, one of the best-known trainers to be based on the course.
The course sat on 104 acres of land and was developed by James Smith Jenkins, a land developer who made his fortune in in the boom times of the mid-1880s. Jenkins seemingly spared nothing when it came to the course, it at times being favourably compared with Flemington with an elegant grandstand seating 3,000, extensive lawns and fountains.
The course was purchased by Epsom Racecourse Pty. Ltd in 1909 and sold to the Epsom Turf Club (the incumbent lessees) in 1926.
The grandstand was extensively renovated in 1934, but tragically destroyed by fire late in December, 1936 under somewhat suspicious circumstances and Epsom never held another race meeting.  The Turf Club itself continued, holding its meetings at nearby Mentone, although the fate of the totalizator installed in 1931, said to be the same as the course remains unknown.
An article on Melbourne's training tracks in The Sporting Globe late in 1938 suggested just over 100 horses were in work at Epsom and that it was ideal for the purpose with the raised grass track and sandy soil offering superb drainage.  There was also an inner sand track, apparently laid after steeplechase events at the course were abandoned (date unknown).
The course proper was nine furlongs and 129 yards, (2109 yards) the straight approximately 1.5 furlongs (330 yards), slightly smaller than today's Caulfield, 2279 and 401 yards respectively.
The Epsom Turf Club disbanded when Mentone was closed after the Second World War.
The Epsom course remained a popular training track and was later taken over by the V.R.C.  Despite protests from around 40 trainers still based at the course, it was closed in 1997 and the land sold off for housing. Most of the trainers were forced to relocate some distance south to Cranbourne where additional facilities were added to cope with the influx.
Courses For Horses - Epsom
Updated 25 May, 2015
The course layout pictured in The Sporting Globe. November, 1938 just prior to Epsom Cup Day which was held at Mentone.  From this, it appears the main entrance would have been in White Street, not shown in the drawing.  The car park appears to have been in the triangular wedge delineated by  White, Manikato and McDonald Streets.
The Globe also added that despite its distance (15 miles) from the city, the course was easily accessible from Mordialloc Station which suggests there may have been an alternate entrance to the south-west possibly in Governor Road near the six furlong post.