The Broken Hill St Patrick’s Race Club began in 1965 when John Toms, a well known local trainer thought of an idea to boost local racing and help alleviate the desperate financial position of the local Catholic schools.
During a game of golf with Catholic administrator, Father Pat Murray, John suggested that by using volunteer labour from within the Catholic School system, they could establish an annual race meeting. The event would include attractive prize money, trophies, food and drink and later – fashions of the field. Excited by the prospect, they talked the idea over with other racing enthusiasts. A committee was formed to draw up plans for the inaugural race meeting to be held on Saturday 19 March 1966.
The inspirational foresight of John Toms and the Irish persuasion of Father Murray lead to the Broken Hill becoming host to the most widely publicised and richest “one day country race meeting” in Australia. There can be no doubt that neither John Toms nor Father Murray could have envisaged the great tourist potential that the St Patrick’s Race Meeting would become for the city of Broken Hill and its community.
Today the phenominal success of the St Pat’s race meeting continues.
Previously held 2 weeks prior to Easter, in 2002 and 2003, the club secured a TAB date to race four weeks before Easter. The race date has now been returned to its original concept of two weeks before Easter from 2004 onwards.
Today, local sporting groups and charity organisations provide staff for race day services in return for payment. The widespread benefits from the race day now assist not only the Catholic Schools but also, many other local non-profit organisations.
The efforts of the past and present committees have been recognised at the New South Wales Country Racing Council “Awards for Excellence” on two occasions when the Broken Hill St Patrick’s Race Club received the awards for the Best Non-TAB New South Wales Country Race Meeting for 1998/99 and 2000/2001.St Pat’s reputation as a great event has also been acknowledged by the “Keep Australia Beautiful Council” when it awarded the Club its annual award for “Best Community Event” in the 2000 Tidy Towns Competition.
The Club continued to be recognised for its community efforts in 2002, winning the Western Catchment Environmental Care Award for a major greening project at the Broken Hill Racecourse.
A finalist in the Tourism NSW Awards for Excellence in 2003, 2004 and 2005, and Racing New South Wales industry awards in 2003 and 2004, St Pat’s continues to grow, enhancing the social and economic fabric of the entire far west region of New South Wales.