Auckland Horse Trotting Club
This history of the Auckland Trotting Club is long and intertwined with the history of the city of Auckland. It started at about the same time as the first settlers began to arrive in the area as they held matches of speed and stamina between the horses that they had brought with them – whether they were utility or military animals. These ‘race meets’ began to be held regularly at places known as Newmarket and Epsom. Trotting was centred mainly on a farm in Epsom which came to be known as Epsom Downs. The property was owned by the Potter family after whom ‘Potter Paddock’ is named.
As the sport of trotting grew in popularity, the flat-racing segment of the races was moved to a track which was just over a mile away. Potters Paddock began to flourish. Besides hosting a variety of excellent races the property was also used for major rugby matches and international tests. Eventually the rugby matches were moved to Eden Park in 1914 the grounds were dedicated solely to the use of trotting races. By 1890 the Auckland Trotting Club was underway. Trotting already had a large following and before long, Auckland Trotting Club started to use innovation to draw even more spectators to its doors. One such innovation was that of night racing. Before long, Auckland Trotting Club came to match the New Zealand Metropolitan Trotting Club status and a healthy rivalry has followed ever since.
In 1916, the Auckland Trotting Club instituted the ‘Great Northern Derby’ for three-year-olds. In 1918, the Rowe Handicap for trotters was introduced. During this time, the Auckland Trotting Club kept on growing and it was able to build the main public grandstand in the 1920s. Other races that were instituted at later dates include the Great Northern Trotting Stakes (2 year olds), the Interdominion Championship carnivals, the New Zealand Juvenile Championship and the New Zealand Messenger Mile.
The main characteristics of the Auckland Trotting Club can be summed up in two words – innovation and population. The club has always remained at the top of its game and with a high population density to draw on for patrons, it has never been short on support. Despite difficult times, the club has survived and today it stands proudly as the centre of racing in Auckland.