Racing commenced at Cranbourne with a two day meeting held on 22nd & 23rd April 1867. Cranbourne did not conduct a race meeting from 16th October 1941 until 15th March 1947. When the Club reformed there were 24 men elected to the Committee, a marked difference to the 9 currently serving on the Committee. Racing resumed in 1947 with Bookmaker’s only operating as On-Course Totalisator Betting did not commence until 1954.
Saturday, 11th March 1961 was a red letter day for the TAB. A limited number of Agencies in the city, suburbs and country opened for business that day. A year later there were 83 agencies and by the mid 60’s there were 140 and at the end of the 60’s the number had exceeded 400. Cranbourne Turf Club conducted its first TAB meeting a week after the Off-Course Totalisator’s opening.
One of the Champions of the Turf, Manikato won his first start at Cranbourne as a two-year-old in 1978. Manikato went on to win the Blue Diamond Stakes, Golden Slipper, Ascot Vale Stakes and the Caulfield Guineas all in 1978.
From modest beginnings the Turf Club’s on course turnover has increased to one of the highest country clubs in this state. The Club showed progress under the guidance of Mr Frank Callinan, Chairman and Mr Joe Taylor, who was Secretary from 1918 to 1949.
Joe Taylor – Secretary for three decades
Mr Taylor, because of business pressures, relinquished that position. Mr Colin McKaskill took over the position of Secretary, which he held for 32 years. Mr McKaskill was also President of the Committee of Management of the Recreation Reserve and President of the Cranbourne Greyhound Club for the first three years of its commencement on the Reserve.
Mr McKaskill retired in 1982 and Mrs Yvonne Blackwood was appointed Secretary of the Cranbourne Turf Club, which she held for 24years until retirement in February 2006. Neil Bainbridge is the newly appointed CEO of the Club
The Cranbourne Racing Centre is the only Centre in Victoria that conducts three codes of racing, being thoroughbred, harness and greyhound.
The Cranbourne Turf Club managed the Cranbourne Training Complex until April 1998. The Cranbourne Training Complex is the largest traing centre in the Southern Hemisphere. This complex was officially opened in October 1990 by The Hon. Neil Trezise, who was then Minister for Sport and Recreation. Stage 1 and 2 of the complex has been completed which consists of a sand track, woodfibre track, 2 grass tracks, 400 stripping sheds, hurdle/alternate track, Racecourse Manager’s house, office administration and a swimming pool.
Cranbourne Racecourse in 1935 The Cranbourne Training Complex was funded by the Racecourse Licences Board initially at a cost of approximately $12M at the completion of Stage 1. There has been another approximately $5M funded from the Racing industry to this stage.
There are currently 190 trainers licensed to train at Cranbourne and approximately 1000 horses in work at present.
The Cranbourne district is one of the fastest growing municipalities in Victoria and the Cranbourne Turf Club is one of the most Progressive in the State.
Lawson Poole in 1943 In 1959
Mr Lawson Poole, an astute local business man became President and with the loyal support of the Committee, the Club rapidly progressed into one of the largest country clubs in Victoria. The up-to-date grandstand was not financed by the then Racecourse Development Board but was financed by unsecured loans from the Committee and the building was supervised personally by Mr Poole. The grandstand is named the ‘Lawson Poole Stand’ and was opened in 1967.
When Mr Poole retired as Chairman in 1979 due to ill health, Mr Charles Jackson was then appointed President and held this positon until his death in 1985. Mr Wallace Hutchinson took over the position of Chairman until his retirement in 1989 and has now recently retired from Committee after serving 38 years as Committeeman. Mr John Finning who was elected to the Committee on the death of his father, Mr John (Jack) Finning in 1973 was later elected Chairman in 1989. Mr John Finning was also Chairman of the Port Phillip District Racing Association and Chairman of the Victorian Country Racing Council. He held these positions for many years and retired in 1996 due to his appointment to the Committee of the Victoria Racing Club, Mr Robin Daley completed his role as Chairman in 2013. Mr Geoff Whiffin is the current Chairman of the Cranbourne Turf Club.
Situated in a picturesque setting at the top end of town, the track boasts superb member and public facilities for you to enjoy a day out at the races. Bring a picnic or enjoy fine dinning in one of our Dining Rooms.