Louth Races History
… capture the magic of the great Australian outback at one of the friendliest – and most unique – country race meetings.
How it all began …
Louth is situated on the banks of the Darling River, 100km south-west of Bourke and 132km north-west of Cobar. Racing in the village dates from 1880 when the Louth Christmas Races were held on 27 December of that year. Featuring a two-race program, it comprised a Two-mile Open Handicap with prize money of 60 sovereigns and a Maiden Plate over 1¼ miles with prize money of 15 sovereigns.
The next documented races were held in 1889 and were staged over two days. Day one consisted of 5 races and a 2-mile hurdle event, followed by an 8-race program on the second day. The most successful starter was a horse named "Winnie" who was placed first in three races, carrying a weight of ten stone. Her win was more memorable as her opponents were only carrying around eight stone. These early race meetings may have provided inspiration for Henry Lawson's prose "Louth on the Darling", in which he described Louth as a place that loved a drink, a punt and a party!
Louth at this time was a flourishing river port from where local wool was collected and taken by boat upstream to the railhead at Bourke. Consignments of copper ingots were also brought from nearby Cobar by bullock teams, to be transported downriver by steamer and barge to Morgan in South Australia. Besides a substantial brick post office and residence, which had been erected during the 1880s, Louth possessed a school, police station and the Dan O'Connell Hotel, which had been built by Thomas Mathews, the founder of the town. A large ferry operated across the river for the crossing of sheep, Cobb & Co. coaches and the travelling public. Electric telegraph services had already been extended, via Louth, along the entire Darling River.
Today, over 100 years later, the Louth Turf Club stages an annual 7-race program with prize money of around $60,000, plus trophies and sashes. Sky Channel is in operation for off-course and interstate punters, and all the usual amenities such as betting fluctuation, bar, BBQ lunch and afternoon tea are on-course for patrons. A fenced controlled drinking area is in place around the bar, bookies, secretaries office, saddling enclosure, mound and private tents. No BYO is allowed in, and no purchased drinks from the bar are allowed out. Food eskies are ok and will be checked upon entry. Private tents have pre-arranged drinks packages. BYO in the carpark is fine. Eskies containing food only are allowed into this designated area.