'​It’s little wonder that the 1970s is thought of by those who can remember it as the most stellar of racing eras.' Bart Cummings.

The 1970s was the last hurrah of the great post-war racing boom, when the racecourse betting-ring remained the one dominant, legal, marketplace for wagering on sporting contests, and red-faced punters in pork-pie hats still lined the Birdcage Enclosure post-race to heckle bad rides and form reversals. The decade fell between the cautious introduction of off-course government betting shops in 1964, and the emergence of pub and club TABs in the mid-1980s that triggered the decline of racecourse attendances.
Lavishly illustrated, Sydney Racing in the 1970s recalls the pleasures of a Saturday afternoon spent at one of the city’s four racecourses: the racegoers that went to them, how they got there, what they found, and what they did in those four or five crowded hours. It is racing history written for the first time from the perspective of the common racegoer. The author was a teenager in the 1970s who lied about his age, and occasionally jumped fences, to gain free admission, and frequented not the official stands and the inner sanctums, nor the press box, but the public enclosures—often the cheapest of them.
However, it includes ‘Pinups’ of the men, horses and places that helped make Sydney racing in the 1970s so compelling:

  • A race caller who made hairs stand on listeners' necks, whose calls are preserved in the National Film and Sound Archive’s Sounds of Australia collection (Ken Howard).
  • Two racehorses who were the decade’s charismatic, crowd-pleasing popstars  (Tails and Gunsynd).
  • A journalist fascinated by all aspects of racing and his craft, acclaimed the Damon Runyon of Australia (Bert Lillye).
  • A unique ‘picnic racecourse’ in the city which, though treated poorly by decision-makers, remained much loved by racegoers.  (Warwick Farm).
  • A jockey who, after a champion apprenticeship, struggled, like his biblical namesake, for years in the wilderness as third wheel in a leading stable, escaped overseas, before returning to be the leading Sydney rider of the early 1990s (Kevin Moses).​


 


The perfect  gift for the racing fan!

Sydney Racing in the 1970s: an Illustrated Companion


You can order the book by by bank transfer to:
St George Bank
​BSB: 112-879
Account number: 019695359

According to the following schedule:
One copy - $AUD89.95
​Two copies - $AUD174.90 

Three copies - $AUD252.00
Five copies -  $AUD375.00 
(All quoted prices include postage within Australia.
PLEASE be sure to include your name and postal address in the description section of the bank transfer so I can get the book to you! If in doubt it fitted email details to w.peake@westernsydney.edu.au.)

This A4 landscape publication of 472 115grams silked paper pages is full colour. It contains hundreds of images including 16 full-page reproductions. The recommended retail price is just $AUD79.95 - perhaps half that of most books of comparable production values and dimensions. Discounts for orders of two or more apply. All copies ordered from this site signed by the author. 


    Reviews of Sydney Racing in the 1970s

  • 'Wayne Peake brings to life with great accuracy the people and events that that made racing so compelling in the Sydney seventies. No better account of this era has yet been written.'BOB CHARLEY, former ‘Legal Eagle’ & inductee, Australian Racing Hall of Fame.
  • 'Wonderful memories of a great decade in racing. The author is unashamedly biased to his favourites but that’s the passion racing builds into its most ardent followers.' KEN CALLANDER, racing writer and broadcaster.
  • 'I thoroughly enjoyed reading Wayne’s quite amazing research and had some great memories of the characters from the media, particularly Bert Lillye - the Damon Runyon of Australia!' JOHN HOLLOWAY, former STC director and racing writer.
  • "This book is a wonderful nostalgia trip for all baby-boomers - and racing tragics, like me. If you can remember the sound of Ken Howard on your transistor radio, or any of the equine champions, people's favourites, trainers, jockeys and 'characters' of the racetracks of Australia in the glorious decade of the 1970s, you will love it!'  JIM HAYNES, OAM, author and broadcaster.
  • 'Doctor Peake first fell under the spell of the world of horses in the 1970s as an assiduous teenage racegoer and under-age punter.  In 2006 he published his important history of the lost world of Sydney’s pony racecourses. In this new book he combines the historian’s forensic qualities with the granular detail of his own vivid memories. It is a unique perspective: informed, inquisitive and fun to read. If you knew that world, or its interstate counterparts, you will enjoy the recognition.' Dr ANDREW LEMON, AM, author of The History of Australian Thoroughbred Racing
  • 'Wayne Peake provided an extraordinary window into the lost days of Sydney’s pony racing, and he’s done it again with this wonderful immersion into the city’s 1970s racing scene. Dripping with detail and delightful in its storytelling, this new book is a living-memory gem.' JESSICA OWERS, author of racing bestsellers Peter Pan and Shannon.
  • 'Wayne Peake displays his passion for and knowledge of racing. The stories from the 1970s recall the atmosphere of racing, when it was a more simple sport, and suburban life in Sydney before the age of the internet. Some of the stories and characters would have been recognisable to Damon Runyon.' WILLIAM RUTLEDGE, racing writer & historian.