Plenty of heart left in coun­try rac­ing

Bush race meet­ings in­valu­able to in­dus­try

Central and North Burnett Times - - JUNIOR SPORT - Adam McCleery

HORSE RAC­ING: Coun­try rac­ing plays an im­por­tant role in na­tional horse rac­ing as a grass roots feeder sys­tem for the higher lev­els of the sport.

Queens­land Rac­ing In­tegrity Com­mis­sion course ste­ward Kim Daily over­saw the Mt Perry races at the week­end and spoke about the im­por­tance of coun­try rac­ing to the sport as a whole.

“While the horses out here don’t tend to be the same stan­dard as the high class races the jock­eys are,” Daily said.

“Jock­eys the likes of Lyall Appo, who was a cham­pion Bris­bane ap­pren­tice in his day, or the jockey for Black Caviar, who got his start out at Dalby.

“There are good qual­ity rid­ers in the coun­try, we get a lot of young rid­ers who are start­ing off their ca­reers by com­ing out to these coun­try venues like Mt Perry, Nanango or Gayndah.”

Daily said the coun­try tracks al­lowed the young jock­eys a chance to gain some valu­able skills in the grass roots sys­tem.

“Then they would progress onto the pro­vin­cial tracks like Sun­shine Coast and the Gold Coast be­fore mak­ing the next step into the towns like Ea­gle Farm in Bris­bane,” Daily said.

Daily said it was a grad­ual build-up of ex­pe­ri­ence and a process where ap­pren­tice jock­eys were able to learn valu­able tricks of the trade and be­come more fa­mil­iar in their roles.

“One of the great val­ues of coun­try meet­ings is for the young jock­eys com­ing in to be able to gain that valu­able ex­pe­ri­ence, you can't just start off at an Ea­gle Farm,” Daily said.

“Most jock­eys hit their peak in their late 30s or at 40 mainly be­cause of all the ex­pe­ri­ence they have gained in their years rid­ing.”

Daily’s role as course ste­ward car­ries as much weight as at any other meet­ing in the coun­try, no mat­ter how small or re­mote the event, the rules are taken se­ri­ously.

“As of July 1we are no longer part of Queens­land Rac­ing but are now with the Queens­land Rac­ing In­tegrity Com­mis­sion,” Daily said.

“So our role on race days is to en­sure the safety of all jock­eys and horses, mak­ing sure the races are run cleanly and every­thing is be­ing done above board. We ap­ply the ex­act same rules as they have at the big­ger tracks like Flem­ing­ton or Ea­gle Farm.

“We keep every­thing the same so that there are no dis­crep­an­cies be­tween race meets.”

Clerk of the course, Joe Mooney, also has a role to play in en­sur­ing the safety of jockey and horse over the course of the race meet­ing.

“I over­see the horses when they go from the sad­dling pad­dock out to the gates and then get them back to the sad­dling yard af­ter each race,” Mooney said.

“More or less our main pri­or­ity here to­day is the safety of the jock­eys and the horses.”

Mooney only re­turned to the area two years ago af­ter mov­ing away as a young man and is happy to be back and con­tribut­ing to such an im­por­tant event for Mt Perry.

“I’ve done this type of thing for a long time, I was as­so­ci­ated with the Bush Rac­ing As­so­ci­a­tion and was pres­i­dent there for a while,” Mooney said.

“I love this course, the scenery at this course is amaz­ing. The sur­round­ing moun­tains are beau­ti­ful, it’s a bit dry to­day but some rain al­ways fixes that.”

Those past roles have given Mooney a wider per­spec­tive of coun­try rac­ings place within the sport.

“I think peo­ple some­times un­der­es­ti­mate the sup­port for coun­try rac­ing from the wider com­mu­nity, the bush peo­ple are look­ing for something and this is a day where they can dress up and go out and re­ally have a great time,” Mooney said.

“We used to have three race meets a year here but now we are un­for­tu­nately lim­ited to just the one, we are lucky we get to hold onto that one day.”

Mooney re­turned to Mt Perry af­ter three decades away to take over the fam­ily farm.

“It has been great be­ing able to get back in­volved with Mt Perry rac­ing and to see that sup­port is still strong,” Los­ing those ex­tra race days was hard but we have made it work,” Mooney said.

Train­ers also find ad­van­tages in coun­try rac­ing par­tic­u­larly for their horses who don’t do quite as well at the big tracks.

Horse trainer Neville O’Toole said he only raced his horses at coun­try meets now, and this had given him per­spec­tive on the value of the meets.

“A lot of horses rac­ing here to­day are ones that can't race or win in the big­ger area, so that makes it a great place for them to get a chance to race,” O’Toole said.

“I haven’t raced in the city for a num­ber of years be­cause my horses just aren’t fast enough but if you didn’t have these coun­try race meets, the ap­pren­tice jock­eys here to­day learn­ing the trade would have a tough time of it.

“This is what helps them de­velop their trade, like Han­nah English who had an­other win to­day, she will be metropoli­tan in no time.”

O’Toole had one horse for the Mt Perry races and trav­elled from Wondai to take part in the day.

“I’ve been to the Mt Perry race meet prob­a­bly four or five times and I try to use the same jockey as often as I can, he has been rid­ing for us for along time,” O’Toole said.

“Coun­try rac­ing hasn’t been its strong­est re­cently but hav­ing said that, the prize­money is good, the crowds are al­ways good and the clubs do a great job.

“The sup­port has picked up when tracks had their race days re­duced from three or four to just the one, the com­mu­nity recog­nises the im­por­tance of race days.”

O’Toole also gives praise to the younger gen­er­a­tions who have em­braced the coun­try race meets and pay a big role in keep­ing them suc­cess­ful.

“Twenty years ago you only re­ally got the old rac­ing hands to days like this, which is great, but you need the younger gen­er­a­tions to keep it go­ing on into the fu­ture,” O’Toole said.

“The young ones come all dressed up and re­ally get into the spirit of the day.”

Daily com­mends the mas­sive ef­fort put for­ward by coun­try rac­ing vol­un­teers and what they are able to achieve with lim­ited re­sources.

“Joy Jensen is great for the club, she musters to­gether a whole group of vol­un­teers for the club races once a year and they do a fan­tas­tic job,” Daily said.

“They are all ex­pe­ri­enced vol­un­teers do­ing a great job which al­lows the race days to run as smoothly as they do.

“From an in­tegrity point of view, which is what we over­see, this is a great day.”

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