The racing of horses in Ireland is as old as the nation itself. In the pre-Christian era we have evidence that the Red Branch Knights raced among themselves, matching their horses against each other, as did the Fianna warriors in the third century A.D. Racing today is huge in the country for our employment and for our economy. Racing in the early days struggled without a governing body and without a proper structure. This all seemed to change once the Jockey Club was formed on the idea of the English Jockey in Newmarket. However, the Jockey failed as money issues and other problems led to its demise. This essay aims to examine firstly the impact of the English Jockey Club in Ireland, secondly why the Jockey Club failed, and third the rise of the Turf Club and the procedures taken to make it a success.
The year 1750 is generally accepted as the date on which the English Jockey Club came in to existence in England. At the beginning it was on the lines of a social club where aristocrat owners could exchange opinions about the sport and its conduct. This was in place of a governing body exercising and enforcing overall. As far as 1757 there are still records of disputes being passed from Ireland to Newmarket. However on this point it must be noted that well in to The Turf Club’s establishment they were requesting the help of the Jockey Club on certain occasions. The men that founded the Jockey Club were some of the most influential people in the England at the time. Initially they met in London at the Star and Garter in Pall Mall. They then further went on to meet on St. James’ Street and Hyde Park before the club soon relocated to Newmarket, famously at the Star and Garter pub.
The first written reference to The Jockey Club came in Pond’s annually published racing ‘Kalendar’, which gave notice in April 1752 that there would be a race at Newmarket for ‘horses the Property of the Noblemen and Gentlemen belonging to The Jockey Club’. In 1752, The Jockey Club leased a plot of land in Newmarket where a Coffee House was constructed in the High Street as a meeting place for its members. Soon The Jockey Club purchased the freehold, which became known as the Jockey Club Rooms, as it is today. The Jockey Club established rules to ensure races on Newmarket heath were run fairly. These proved so successful that they were gradually adopted by racecourses around the country and soon, internationally. From setting the Rules of Racing, over time, The Jockey Club took on the responsibility of becoming the official governing body for horseracing in Britain.
The Jockey Club in Ireland was formed at a rather unusual time. The nineteenth century was rather turmoil for the foundation of clubs and sports; however the eighteenth century was “strikingly modest” for the cultivation and organisation of sporting activities. The result of urbanisation must contribute towards the creation of clubs in the in the eighteenth century. For example the population of Kildare...