New Zealand Racing Conference meets

8 July 1893

 Betting on horses, 1912
Betting on horses, 1912 (Alexander Turnbull Library, 1/2-045487-G)

The New Zealand Racing Conference was formed to control the thoroughbred horse-racing industry in the colony. Horse racing had been quickly introduced to the early settlements. It was a feature of the first anniversary celebrations in Wellington, Auckland, Nelson, Otago and Canterbury. Race meetings were important social as well as sporting events.

Early race meetings in New Zealand were controlled by local committees elected on an ad-hoc basis. They made the arrangements, drew up the rules and appointed the officials. While local clubs had their own rules, all were based on those of the Jockey Club in England. Until the late 1860s there was little coordination between clubs because of the difficulties of travel and communication.

In 1876 the Canterbury Jockey Club resolved, ‘That it was desirable to establish a New Zealand Jockey Club, to frame rules and make a scale of weights to be used by all clubs running under the rules’. But for various reasons, including regional rivalries, a New Zealand Racing Conference was not formed until July 1893.

The independence of racing clubs stymied efforts to create a New Zealand Jockey Club. Instead, rules and regulations were drawn up for conferences of clubs. These set out the representation and voting powers of metropolitan and district clubs. By 1900 conference control of racing was firmly established and recognised by the Jockey Club in England.

Image: Betting on horses, 1912 (Te Ara)