For those of you who saw the article in Saturday’s West Australian newspaper about Blu Spec, the first West Australian horse to win the famous Melbourne Cup, you might like to know about Mundaring’s very own racecourse, The Helena Vale Racecourse.
At the intersection of Great Eastern Highway and Farrell Road travelling east towards Mundaring, you will notice the old pub known as the Darling Range Hotel. This pub was built to service a racecourse built on a block of 150 acres to the left of the highway. This was called the Helena Vale Racecourse and was conceived and built by a syndicate of 20 local businessmen including Patrick “Paddy” Connolly.
The Helena Vale Race Club was registered in 1897. The course was laid out and was a mile and a quarter in length. Various buildings were erected including administration offices, stabling, the birdcage, an exercise yard and a grandstand.
The first meeting was on St Patrick’s Day Thursday 17th March 1898. Later in 1900, a branch line was built to transport both horses and people to the track. As a newspaper article said, “Patrick Andrew Connolly bought the horse, then a three-year-old at a Sydney auction for around $315.”
“Blue Spec “went on to win both the Kalgoorlie and Perth Cup in 1904. This gave Connolly the push to send the horse across the country to enter the Melbourne Cup which he won easily in 1905. He returned home to Western Australia to win the Helena Vale Cup carrying a massive 10 stone (63.5kg) jockey. He won 7 more races for “Paddy” Connolly.
This racecourse operated until 1969 with the last race being run on the 22nd March that year.
These images are courtesy of the Midland and Districts Historical Society.