By Harley Walden
Scone Race Club would hold its race meetings on the White Park track for near on fifty years when in the mid-1960s it became clear that the White Park racecourse would soon prove to be inadequate, although it was extremely well located on the southern edge of town.
Various sites were looked at but proved to be unsuitable or too expensive so plans for relocating were shelved.
In the late 1970s after modest track upgrading and completion of a joint grandstand and horse sale ring at White Park, Scone Race Club sought assistance from the TAB to upgrade its administration centre, jockeys room and dining room.
The NSW Racecourse Development Committee (RDC) informed the club that no further funds would be forthcoming while the club remained at its present location.
One option that became apparent was a possible amalgamation with the Upper Hunter Race Club (Muswellbrook).
This proved an extremely unpopular option with club members and the citizens of Scone and the plan was abandoned.
In 1987 the club once again approached the RDC for assistance in upgrading its patron facilities and administration building.
The RDC explained quite clearly that it was prepared to assist in building a new racecourse as long as sufficient land was acquired; they were not prepared to sink more money into the totally inadequate racecourse at White Park.
With this in mind, committee members searched high and low for a suitable location but without success.
In 1988 Scone Race Club Committeeman Bill Rose informed the committee that he had found, in his opinion, the perfect site.
At the same time he produced a plan: if the Scone Race Club would assist the Hunter Equine Research Foundation then the land at a cost of one million dollars could be paid for.
With this in place the Club set about building a state of the art racetrack on Tarrengower at Satur.
When it became known that the track at White Park would close shades of 1944 appeared when a group of Scone sportsmen gathered and discussed the idea of giving the old track the send-off it deserved.
The “White Park (Racecourse) Wake” Committee consisted of W.P. Howey (convenor) former Scone Race Club President, Mr. A.A. Ashford (accountant), J.W. Johnston (stud owner), A.M. Rose (former Race Club treasurer), H.K. Walden (racing journalist), Stan Wicks (property owner and former horse trainer), W. Norman (Scone Newsagent).
The date set down for this nostalgic event was October 22 1994, followed by the “wake hangover” TAB meeting two days later on Monday, October 24.
They would be the last on the race track that has served the Scone racing industry for more than 47 years.
If the crowd was any indication, Scone Race Club should hold “closing down sales” more often.
At least 3000 people flocked to White Park racecourse on the Saturday to farewell the old track.
Forty-seven years of racing at White Park came to an end as lone piper George Fraser wailed Auld Lang Syne on the bagpipes and racing stalwart Bill Howey climbed the ladder to lower the Scone Race Club flag for the last time.
Howey is a former Scone Race Club President and Fraser is the grandson of long-time patron of the club, the late Sir Alister McMullin.
That was typical of the nostalgic presence amongst the crowd which took precedence over racing as people used the occasion to simply reminisce.
The end of nearly five decades of racing at White Park had attracted names synonymous with racing from near and far.