The 1970’s were a great time for the racing industry and Canterbury Park was as popular as ever. Much improvements were made as the industry was awash with cash.
At Canterbury for example, the old stand was demolished in 1974 and a new state of the art stand with Air-conditioning, top floor function centre and fully enclosed, catered viewing areas was built. It was Opened in 1976 by Neville Wran to much fanfare, racegoers flocked to the course to experience it. The STC actually set up its new head office and racing office in new premises within Canterbury racecourse.
Canterbury, in this era, provided wonderful training facilities, eight new training stalls built in early 1979 to cater for the increased number of horses being trained at the track, the largest number in the clubs history. Horses were stabled at the back of many of the residences around the track, including in Broughton Street, Croydon Avenue, opposite Picken Oval and at various places around Ashbury.
By the 1980’s and the increase in tote turnover and prizemoney kept the zing in racing for the STC. STC took the opportunity to upgrade many racecourse amenities including the construction of tunnels under the track and the in-field at Canterbury. In the early 1980s, the club took the initial steps and the project was completed in 1984 — two vehicular tunnels and one pedestrian tunnel under the track, eliminated traffic congestion at the end of race days as well as traffic problems at the level crossing to the infield car park when horses were on the track. Their construction had been the result of the STCs trip to Paris in 1980 when Parker saw the tunnels at a Parisian trotting venue, at Vincennes.
The STC was not afraid to try its hand at “gimmick” promotions. The promotion in 1997— on what was described as a “family day” — by salting the lake at Canterbury with 230 silver perch in an effort to attract patronage. Promoted as a “world first”, the club offered a boat, a 10-horsepower motor and a trailer for the racegoer who caught the biggest fish. A $2 entry fee entitled contestants to a rod and reel for 30 minutes between 8am and 3pm on the day.
The technological age hit hard in the 1990s and the racing clubs knew they had to run with it or be left behind. In the shadows of the Sydney Olympics, and beyond, racing took stock. The new millennium would herald in all the excitement and expectation racing could want; making it work was more the conundrum! The STC looked to night racing and Sunday racing as a means to lift its programming and revenue, to give patrons alternatives to the conventional Wednesday and Saturday meetings. Canterbury was the perfect track for such ventures — compact and intimate with a good track surface and much improved facilities.
At Canterbury Park in the late 90’s, The club was wash with cash and planned three major projects, all to be done concurrently:
- Refurbishment of the course proper.
- Installation of lights for night racing.
- Significant ground floor improvements to the Clyde Kennedy Stand.
- Track widening to a standard width of 24 metres;
- much improved drainage to both surface and sub-surface
All of this was done to slot Canterbury Park into a special niche, as a first class venue for mid-week and night racing, certainly the best venue of its type in New South Wales. The widening of the course coincided with the closing of Canterbury Park as a training track at the end of June 1997, for the diehards a difficult initiative to accept, the club allocated $200,000 to help trainers re-locate.