SEPTEMBER 10 1974 is one of the most significant dates in the history of thoroughbred racing in the Manning Valley.
This was the first Taree Cup meeting at Taree Race Club's Bushland Drive Racecourse. Krambach Race Club had the honour of hosting the first meeting at Bushland Drive on September 7.
Until 1974 racing in Taree was conducted at a track near Taree Recreation Centre, shared by Taree Race Club and Taree Greyhound Club, known as Robbery Park. Facilities were primitive and the race club was forced to look for new headquarters when Taree Municipal Council wanted the land for more playing fields at the recreation centre.
The race club owned a parcel of land off Bushland Drive and in May 1971 initial work started in constructing the new track. Total cost for the project was $200,000.
In a front page story on September 10 the Manning River Times described the 1974 meeting as 'the biggest in Taree Race Club's history and probably the biggest in the Central and Lower Coast Racing Association.'
North and North Western District Racing Association chairman, Stewart Nivison officially opened the track and the then biggest crowd to attend a race meeting in Taree turned out.
Rugby league commentator Ray Warren was one of the guests at the meeting in while legendary jockey Athol Mulley was among the riders. Ray Warren also provided a phantom call of the Taree Cup at a pre-cup function held at Taree RSL Club for a crowd of 450.
The Taree Cup was won by Forerunner, raced by a Kempsey syndicate which included Don Hopkins, who would later spend more than 30 years on the Taree Race Club committee, serving at various times as treasurer and president.
One patron was so taken by the occasion that he decided to streak up the home straight, hotly pursed on a horse by clerk of the course, Olympian Johnny Fahey. The streaker disappeared into surrounding bushland.
While far removed from Manning Valley Race Club's modern complex at Bushland Drive, the track in 1974 was still a vast improvement on the eyesore that was Robbery Park.