St Patrick’s Race Day Yea 2018

Yea, St Patrick’s Race Day 2018


They’ve been racing at Yea for a few years now.


The first horse race in Yea was back in 1881, though not at the current location. The location of the race track changed in 1890, then in 1903 the race track was established at its current location, with the first race there being conducted in 1904. It’s remained at that site since, though it hasn’t always been smooth sailing. Racing at Yea’s had a colorful history. Races were curtailed during the Great Trade War, AKA World War One. The race course reopened for a period after that, and then closed down with all buildings and fittings being dismantled, as the racing Club disbanded in the 1920s. It reformed a decade later, again closed during the Second World War, but has operated since 1948.


There have been some notable performances grace Yea race track. One famous identity Oliver McLeish had a longtime involvement with the Yea Race track, being an owner, trainer as well as jockey. In his last race he rode a winner at this track, he being the ripe old age of 73. Another meritorious performance was by Des Garlick who rode 4 winners, on two different horses, at the same meeting in 1961.


St Patrick predates the township of Yea, let alone horse racing being held there. St Patrick was around a long time ago, apparently passing away on March 17 461CE.  Though his official day of recognition is March 17 many race meeting commemorate him on days in the vicinity of that particular date.


The St Patrick’s race day has been run in Yea for over 60 years. This year it was conducted on Sunday February 25th , so i popped along to enjoy the day out. The organisers of the event working in tandem with the race club put on a fine show. I was part of the big crowd attending a fine day’s racing in a picturesque setting,  raising funds to support the local parish and otrhr worthy causes.. 2018 was blessed by a temperate day as we race goers flocked to the picturesque Yea track.


Calling the races was Victoria Shaw, a regular supporter of this race meeting. Victoria has called races all around the globe including in France and Poland, but she is the only female broadcaster in Australia.


It would be remiss not to mention the victory of Burzali in race 3, ridden and trained by Geoff Brunsdon from Benalla. I recall Geoff riding in the big smoke back in the 1970’s -1980’s. Maybe he’s not a greybeard, though definitely a grey moustache.


It was a six race card, the feature obviously being the Cup race. Ran over 10 and half furlongs in the old parlance, 2100 meters. Of last year’s Cup field the 2017 winner Lardner Lou was there. Lardner Lou was primed for her Cup defence, running second in the Buchan Cup the week prior. The 2017 third place getter Ferrero also ran on the day, but not in the Cup race. Victoria called the big race. Lardner Lou set off in a tightly run race with It Could Be You neck to neck with it. This was the pattern as they went around the track, down the hill at the back, adjacent to the golf course. You’d see the horses amongst the gum trees, then they’d disappear behind the willows, but Victoria let us know where they were, calling it accurately. Down the straight Lardner Lou led, though 2016 winner Riley’s Rocket was breathing down her neck. It Could Be you had dropped by back to third but fought it out. This was how they finished. Lardner Lou wining, Riley’s Rocket second, then It Could Be You making up the placings. Congratulations to the connections of Lardner Lou, especially apprentice jockey Caitlyn King, who again rode Lardner Lou to victory in the St Pats Cup.


It being the last race meeting for Yea in the 2017-18 race season prizes were given to the seasons best performed trainers and jockeys. Troy Kilgower won the trainers trophy. Dani Walker, who rode a double to finish the day, was the best rider at Yea in 2017-18. She wound up the day in fine style riding home Howling Wolf in the last. It Is worth adding, Dani carried 73 kg in this ride. A sterling effort.


The St Patrick’s Cup is the last race meeting conducted at Yea this racing season, but they’ll be back for more fine country racing next season. On that note it’s goodbye to Yea for this racing season; goodbye.





  1. Luke Reynolds says

    Really enjoyed the history in this piece Glen. Plus the 73yo jockey! Always interested in what becomes of old racetracks/footy & cricket ovals when they are no longer in use. Do you know what became of Yea’s original two racetracks?

  2. Ta Luke.

    No i don’t know where exactly they were, or what happened to them.

    On that topic i’m curious about Heathcote, in central Victoria. I’m of the impression they ran there until the 1950’s, but i’d like to know where the track was. I surmise many little country towns once had tracks that are no longer there.

    Closer to home i don’t actually know where they ran at Williamstown. I’ve a rough idea of the location but not 100% sure.



  3. Luke Reynolds says

    Down in my area Cobden once had a racetrack, closed for many years, remnants of the rail still remain.

  4. Rocket Singers says


    Captivating piece as always.

    Will endeavour to follow up on Heathcote for you…

    The Tooboorac footy ground just down the road is still there avec tired old goal-posts.
    They became highly dependent on nashio guys from nearby Pucka in the early 70s and were gone by the end of the decade.

  5. Working in Williamstown today. The old race track was just off Kororoit Creek adjacent to the borders of Williamstown & Altona. Near where the Mobil depot now stands.

    They ran here from 1859 until 1940. The track closed during the Second World War, then there was a lot of political machinations re the track’s future and the whereabouts of race tracks in Melbourne. The grandstand burnt down in 1947, and by 1948 it was decided Williamstown was no longer a race track.

    Interesting to note Phar Lap won the 1931 Underwood Stakes ran at Williamstown. What we now know as the Zipping Classic was originally the Wiliamstown Cup first ran in 1888.


  6. Rocket Singers says


    The Heathcote Golf Club is now on the site of the old Heathcote racecourse. Still called the Heathcote Racecourse Reserve. I think a number of country places may have had golf courses in the middle of the race-track. Wagga and Rochester spring to mind.

    The old racecourse was down the last street to the right as you head north out of town just before the road splits and on the left the McIvor Highway takes you to Bendigo and on the right the Northern Highway goes onto Toolleen, Elmore, Rochester, and ultimately Echuca.

    Thanks to former Williamstown full-back Glen Height – whose father Barry played for Heathcote and South Bendigo – for this information. “The big timber cutter from Heathcote” was how Barry was described by 3BO’s famous football caller Dick Turner when he played for South.

  7. Ta Rocket, i’ll have a bo-peep next time we go through Heathcote.

    I have an affinity for Heathcote. Outside of the two Corowa cemeteries, it has most members of my family buried there. I wouldn’t call it a claim to fame but is good for doing genealogy.

    Corowa Cup tomorrow, Saturday, 10/3: we’ll be there.


  8. Rocket Singers says

    Thanks Glen!

    Remember the old adage: If you can’t back a winner, back another!

Leave a Comment