We are sadly informed that a long time steward of the racing industry in Gauteng, Tommy Chalmers of Chalmers Electrical, passed away on Saturday 6 January 2024.
There are those that will remember him as the person who put up the lights at Newmarket for night racing, which commenced in 1996.
Tommy’s dad Alf Chalmers was the head of the SA Tennis Union during the days of Gordon Forbes and Abe Segal, explains longstanding Sporting Post reader, Martin le Roux.
As part of its official 50th anniversary, Newmarket Racecourse staged the 100 000 Newmarket Golden Jubilee Handicap on 29 September 1988.
The introduction of night racing in the second half of the 1990’s caused huge excitement, with a turnout of more than 7 000 for the opening night on 29 September 29 1996. A record R8-million was wagered on the nine race programme.
Those midweek night races were extremely popular. However, the huge flash lights and eventual complaints from nearby residents were a big talking points.
A black day in the history of horse racing for Alberton and the Newmarket Racecourse was 24 May 2001, when it was officially announced that the bell had tolled for horse racing exactly 63 years after it all started in 1938.
‘The night Newmarket racing died’, was the phrase used back then to describe the very last night race at Newmarket.