The Cyclopedia of New Zealand [Taranaki, Hawke's Bay & Wellington Provincial Districts]
The Hawke's Bay Metropolitan Jockey Club, founded in the “sixties,” is one of the oldest and most prosperous of New Zealand racingg clubs. The course, which is situated within the Hastings borough, is one of the prettiest in Australasia. It has an area of ninety acres, embraces a pretty lake, page 356 and is sheltered by a ring of ornamental pines. It is the freehold property of the club, and is valued at £20,000. At all times the course is open to the public as a recreation ground. The tracks are good, and well looked after, and used much for training purposes. There is a fine two-storeyed grand stand, 120 feet by 60 feet, an up-to-date stewards' stand, and other necessary appointments. A totalisator was bought in October, 1901, and is worked by the club's officials; at the end of the first twelve months it had returned a handsome profit, amounting to over £300 in excess of the working expenses. The club has a membership of 250, the 'subscription for which is three guineas per annum, and the fee for horses in training, two guineas per annum. Four race meetings are held annually, for two days on each occasion, all of which are very largely attended. There are two old-established classic events, namely, the Hawke's Bay Guineas, founded in 1880 for three-year-olds, and the Hawke's Bay Stakes for two and three-year-olds, established in 1896; a recent innovation is the Hastings Stakes for two-year-olds. The Steeplechase, founded in 1879, is one of the principal events of the winter meeting, and the Hawke's Bay Cup (run at the autumn meeting) is also another attractive event. The stakes, which have recently been considerably increased, amount to over £6000. Officers of the club: Sir William Russell (president), Hon, J. D. Ormond, M.L.C., and Mr. George Hunter (vice-presidents), Mr. G. L. Sunderland (treasurer), and Mr. W. J. Stratton (secretary). There is also a managing committee of ten.
Mr. William John Stratton, who has been secretary of the Hawke's. Bay Metropolitan Jockey Club since the year 1902, was born in London, England, in January, 1872. He was trained as an accountant, and was for seven years in the employ of Messrs Cassells, the well-known publishing firm. In 1892 he came to New Zealand, and for a time was employed at New Plymouth. Mr. Stratton subsequently held an appointment as clerk of works to the Southland Meat Company at Mataura, and then settled in Christchurch for a short time. In 1897 he went to the Old Country, and entered the office of the Royal Insurance Company in London, but in the following year he returned to New Zealand, settled in. Hastings, and took up journalistic work. Soon afterwards Mr. Stratton started in business as an accountant, in which he has been successful, and he holds a number of secretaryships. Whilst resident in Christchurch Mr. Stratton went to Australia as a representative swimmer, and during his residence in Hastings he has taken an active part in social life.
The Napier Park Racing Club was founded about twenty years ago, with Messrs John Close, J. Mc Vay, G. H. Swan, and John Bennett among its promoters. The racecourse, which is controlled by the Napier Park Company, consists of some ninety acres, situated at Green meadows. This was at first rough and irregular country, but the expenditure of large sums of money has made it a capital course. There are three stands on the course, the grand stand, a small public stand, and the stewards' stand. The grand stand, which is claimed to be the best and largest of its kind in the province, includes apartments for the use of the secretary, the officers, and the jockeys. Three race meetings are held annually, in March, June, and October respectively. There is a membership of 160, and the annual subscription is two guineas. Committee meetings are held monthly, and the officers of the club are elected annually. Officers for the year 1906: Messrs John McVay (president), J. Vigor Brown (vice-president), Percy Martin (judge), J. Chadwick (handicapper), S. E. Cooper (time-keeper), James Lopdell (clerk of the course), A. G. Wood (starter), F. G. Smith (clerk of the scales), and J. E. Gleadow (secretary).