Hooves etched in history

A glimpse of the new artwork.

HORSE racing in East Fremantle might have been gone for nearly 30 years, but a new art installation will make sure it isn’t forgotten. 

East Fremantle council commissioned local father-son artists Tony and Ben Jones to create a “permanent reminder” of the 63 years of racing at the old Richmond Raceway. The installation will be launched by mayor Jim O’Neill today 

(Saturday August 1) at 10am in its new home in George Booth park. 

Between 1928 and 1991 the Richmond Raceway hosted dozens of horse races a year, eagerly watched by thousands of cheering fans. 

The park where the installation will be placed is named after the 1943-1958 president of the committee of the Fremantle Trotting Club. His grandson, who is also called George Booth, has lived next to the track his entire life, and remembers race days fondly. 

“The sound of hooves still makes my head turn – it reminds me of the horses arriving at 5am, or 6am, of people coming from all over,” he told the Herald.  

“Everybody in Freo came to the trots – it was the social go-to. If it was a big night at the racetrack, and you went into Fremantle, it would be pretty much empty,” Mr Booth said.

Though the track was demolished in 1994, remnants of it can be found amidst the houses that replaced it. Some of the track’s original turnstiles are preserved in the George Booth and Marjorie Green parks. Speedy Chevel and Bay Patch streets are named for champion horses, while the road around Raceway Park follows the route of the old track.

The installation will be another reminder of the years of racing. The date chosen for its opening is symbolic as well: All thoroughbred horses have their birthday on August 1 so their ages can be standardised for comparison.

Tony Jones talked the Herald through the artwork, which took more than six months to finish and fine-tune.

“Ben designed these steel graphics, and we’ve transformed all of the old booths so that they each tell the story of a champion horse” Jones said.  

Like Mr Booth, he hopes the artwork will help people remember the suburb’s history. 

“It’s almost 30 years now, and people forget. The turnstiles, and the booths — it’s something that people can get a grip on. I hope this art can help pay tribute in a way.”

by LOTTIE ELTON

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