Jack Mur­ray has be­come a fix­ture of the re­gional horse rac­ing crowd Life pa­tron of the races

Central and North Burnett Times - - LIFE - Jack Lawrie jack.lawrie@cnbtimes.com.au

IF you’ve been to any of the horse races in the Eidsvold or Monto area in the last few decades, there’s a good chance you’ve seen Jack Mur­ray.

A life mem­ber of the Eidsvold Race Club, Jack got his start train­ing horses on his farm, Ja­maica Park at Eidsvold and went onto be­come a big player in the club.

“My dad trained horses in Gympie for 40 years and when he passed away, I had a good horse stud on Ja­maica Park,” he said.

“I bought the farm in the ’60s and had Ja­maica Park Thor­ough­bred Stud.”

“I bred and trained the horse that still holds the track record in Bund­aberg for 1380 me­tres, Half Handy.”

His big­gest claim to fame was 15 years ago when he helped get those with a horse trainer’s li­cence such as him­self to have a say in the race com­mit­tee.

“For a long time, when you had a trainer’s li­cence you weren’t al­lowed on the com­mit­tee,” Jack said.

“I got that changed; I rang the stew­ards and told them to can­cel my li­cense straight away, they asked why and told them they were talk­ing about clos­ing the races down at the time and I wanted to be on the com­mit­tee.”

“An­other ste­ward rang and asked when the AGM was, I told him Fri­day night, and he said we’ll change the leg­is­la­tion on Mon­day.

“When I went to the meet­ing and told them that, they didn’t be­lieve me so they can­celled the meet­ing un­til next week and then got word that li­censees got on the com­mit­tee.”

Nowa­days most of the race com­mit­tee mem­bers have li­censes, not just for train­ers but sta­ble-hands, and book-keep­ers.

Jack said the rea­son those with li­censes weren’t al­lowed back in the day was fear of it be­ing a con­flict of in­ter­est.

A mem­ber since the ’60s, when Jack joined they were do­ing six race meet­ings a year, which was slashed down to three about 10 years ago and fi­nally down to one around the time Jack’s son Lyle Mur­ray took over as pres­i­dent.

“When Lyle took over the pres­i­dency, the club was in a bad way, I think they were $3000 in debt,” Jack said.

“Now we’ve got about $15,000 in the kitty.”

These days, Jack’s sons look af­ter Ja­maica Park, but Jack still drops by to visit and help out most days.

When the races are in town, he helps out in the sad­dling pad­dock, but mostly spec­tates from the side­lines.

It’s got­ten to the point where most peo­ple who come to the races will pull Jack over to shake his hand.

“I see no rea­son why I can’t do it once a year for them,” he said.

“I know nearly all those peo­ple, they take me out to most of the races on a Satur­day or Sun­day.”

He was im­pressed with how the crowds have grown at the most re­cent Eidsvold Races.

“The horses went well, there was a big crowd of peo­ple, it was very hot, easy to get a sweat up,” he said.

“The book­mak­ers seemed to be happy, but I couldn’t get much out of them.”

❝ I rang the stew­ards and told them to can­cel my li­cense straight away...they were talk­ing about clos­ing the races down at the time and I wanted to be on the com­mit­tee.

— Jack Mur­ray

PHOTO: JACK LAWRIE

RAC­ING STAPLE: Pa­tron and life mem­ber of the Eidsvold Race Club, Jack Mur­ray was there for a num­ber of big changes in the club's his­tory.

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