Times Past: Horse racing takes off in early Ipswich
The Queensland Times
The 1850s was the time when Ipswich meant horse racing and a Mr Robert Little gave this reason for making Ipswich the headquarters of racing: “It being so far and inconvenient to travel by horse to Brisbane, and Ipswich being in a more central position between the Downs and Brisbane, it was decided that the Ipswich meeting should be looked upon as the meeting place of the district.”
“The district” meant the whole of Moreton Bay and this included squatters and bullockies.
They came to attend the three-day annual meeting of the Australian Jockey Club.
Two men in the 1850s who were known as ‘Bigge and Little’ were Mr FE Bigge of Mt Brisbane and Mr Robert Little of Brisbane.
Another prominent member of the Ipswich racing fraternity was Joshua Peter Bell who as owner of first class racing stock won a reputation throughout Australia. Mr Bell first entered parliament in 1865. He then became Colonial Treasurer in the Herbert Ministry and President of the Legislative Council a position he held until his death in 1881.
He had been knighted by Queen Victoria. Pride of place was given to him as the owner of the Grange Stud situated at the old Ipswich racecourse which he purchased in June 1874.
It consisted of 216 acres and he purchased the land for 1,350 pounds. Mr William Kellett made the site famous by transforming it into a stud establishment known as “The Grange” while Mr Harry Walsh was the trainer there.
During the seven years existence of “The Grange” some 105 races were won including all the principle events in the Q.T.C calendar. Also, horses from “The Grange” won all of the chief races in Australia.
1859 – The first official racing at The Grange and the first official Queensland racing meeting.