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