Compiled for OzSportsHistory by Brian Membrey

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Courses For Horses - Epsom


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 - (Frank) Reys, (Pat) Hyland and (Jack) 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 before the “bust” of 1892.   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 (then 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 Victoria Racing Club.

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

Racing at Epsom : training tracks both inside and outside the course proper (the outside probably for hurdlers and steeplechasers)