Racing club thanks a loyal 44-year stal­wart

The Riverine Herald - - TRADE & SERVICES GUIDE - By An­drew John­ston

AM­BROSE Chris­tian doesn’t en­joy the lime­light.

The ami­able sep­tu­a­ge­nar­ian (he’s 74 now) would rather dis­cuss the achieve­ments of those around him than his own.

‘‘I be­lieve that the race club has done a lot more for me than what I have done for the race club,’’ Chris­tian told the Riv.

How­ever, this week the spot­light is un­avoid­able.

Chris­tian has been a com­mit­tee mem­ber at the Echuca Racing Club since 1973 and on Fri­day the club paid trib­ute to him by nam­ing a race af­ter him — the Thank You Am­brose Hand­i­cap (won by Gaut­eng Gal).

Chris­tian first moved to the town in 1965 to play foot­ball for the Echuca Foot­ball Club while work­ing at the abat­toirs, which was owned by the club pres­i­dent.

With his fam­ily in Mel­bourne, Chris­tian said he’d make an ex­tra ef­fort on the field to make sure his fam­ily knew how he was go­ing.

‘‘My sis­ter used to send clip­pings of the pa­per down to my mum, so I had to make sure I got a lot of bloody kicks, which I didn’t,’’ Chris­tian said.

He spent five years with Echuca, be­fore mov­ing to Kyabram Foot­ball Club for five years — and a pre­mier­ship.

While still play­ing foot­ball, Chris­tian found a new pas­sion af­ter be­ing in­vited to join the racing club com­mit­tee.

In the 44 years since he has ac­com­plished a lot, in­clud­ing a com­plete resur­face of the track 25 years ago.

‘‘We spent a lot of money fix­ing the course but we made it to the stan­dard that it now is at, and has to be at,’’ he said.’’

Racing has changed a great deal in his time, mostly for the bet­ter in his opin­ion.

‘‘We got on top of il­le­gal gambling, got it or­gan­ised prop­erly and now a lot of the money goes to Racing Vic­to­ria, which puts it all back into look­ing af­ter the clubs, pay­ing vets and mak­ing sure that our horses are looked af­ter in­cred­i­bly well,’’ Chris­tian said.

He also takes pride in how the club was run, main­tain­ing a profit for his whole run.

‘‘We didn’t bring in the pok­ies like a lot of other clubs did. We didn’t want them around,’’ Chris­tian said.

‘‘We found other ways to keep the club go­ing with­out Racing Vic­to­ria giv­ing us money, so I’m very proud of that.’’

He does miss cer­tain as­pects of the way the club used to op­er­ate.

‘‘We used to have a meet­ing where all the peo­ple from Mel­bourne would come down and have a look at the club and the wives of all the com­mit­tee would cook for the func­tion,’’ Chris­tian said.

Here, he looks lov­ingly at his

NET­BALL DRAWS

4:30pm: CRT 1 PA Mid­night v White Devils (Bethany Bul­mer, Lara Judd), CRT 2, JMB The Gods v Black Pan­thers (Bridget Byrne, Han­nah Nor­man), CRT 3, JMB Whip Dab Nae Nae v Rebels (Jaymi Clancy, Lily Hind­son), CRT 4, JC Ge­latos v Pan­das (Evonne Caine, Lizzie Hal­lo­ran), CRT 5, PB1 Mini Mow­ers v Happy Hip­pos (Pheobe Tomp­son, Matilda Ful­ton), CRT 6, PB-2 Funky Mon­keys v Ras­cals (Cloe O'Brien, Maya Kadri), CRT 7, PB-2 Rox­ies v The Pix­ies (Rylea Hip­well, Han­nah Nor­man), CRT 8, JMC Rain­bow Rub­ber Duck­ies v Yeet (Claire Byrne, Asha Gray), CRT 9, PC Jets v Fun­tas­tics (Steph Buck­ley, Eden Dren­nan), CRT 10, JC Su­per­stars v Warriors (Sarah Porter, Han­nah Weiner). Emer­gen­cies: Han­nah Fraser, Corey Dren­nan.

5.30pm: CRT 1, PA Slid­ers v Fire­birds (Maia Roberts, Mary Green), CRT 2 JMC wife Kay. Kay moved to the town in 1967 and they mar­ried in 1968. They have shared a won­der­ful 49 years of mar­riage, with eight chil­dren and now 25 grand­chil­dren.

‘‘They’ve al­ways world,’’ Chris­tian said.

‘‘Since I stopped play­ing foot­ball, I’ve al­ways been able to be around them and they’ve al­ways been around me.’’

Racing be­came a fam­ily busi­ness for the Chris­tian fam­ily.

All eight of their chil­dren have been in­volved in the club, do­ing var­i­ous jobs around the track.

‘‘They played a lot of roles around the club. They started off on the gate, but they also moved on to work­ing in the mount­ing yards get­ting the horses pre­pared.

‘‘Nowa­days you’d have to put the hard hat on and be trained, back then we just let one of the kids do it and gave them $10 for the day.’’

Chil­dren, grand­chil­dren and friends and fam­ily, now spread across the state, were in at­ten­dance on Fri­day as the club hon­oured him.

Club chief ex­ec­u­tive Leigh New­ton spoke of Chris­tian’s in­cred­i­ble legacy.

‘‘He’s given so much to the club, al­ways put it be­fore him­self and made sure ev­ery­thing he did was to the club’s ben­e­fit,’’ New­ton said.

‘‘We’re in­cred­i­bly grate­ful for his ser­vice.’’ been our The Slongs v Rene­gades (Claire Byrne, Jaymi Clancy), CRT 3, JMB Ritchie v Pur­ple Peo­ple Eaters (Clau­dia Fitzsim­mons, Alan­nah Fry Smith), CRT 4, JB Mini Chick­y­babes v 3rd De­gree Burns (Linda Dwyer, Maya Kadri), CRT 5, PB-1 Mok­sters v Hot­shots (Katie Hal­lo­ran, Pheobe Tomp­son), CRT 6, JC Le­git Leg­ends v De­stroy­ers (Genevieve McLin­don, Shea Power), CRT 7, JMA Mags' Poo­dles v Ravens (Leah Kemp­ster, Ni­cole Judd), CRT 8, JMA Bevo's Leg­ends v Su­per '8' (Evonne Caine, Sarah Porter), CRT 9 PC Feenix v Wolver­ines ( Natasha Glover, Heidi Hall), CRT 10, JB Ti­tans v Jalapeno Hot­ties (Matilda Ful­ton, Chelsea Proust). Byes: Gram­mar Girls, Wild Child. Wed­nes­day’s mixed draw 6.30pm: CRT 1, S1/2 De-Riv-Ative v Phoenix (Brenda Sten­ning, Al­lanah Fry

Though he will be leav­ing his cur­rent role, Chris­tian will re­main a fix­ture at the club.

He is a pa­tron, a role you hold for life.

‘‘It’s pretty hard to re­sign from that,’’ he said.

When asked what he will miss most about his role on the com­mit­tee, Kay jumped in.

‘‘I think he’ll miss de­bat­ing things with the rest of the com­mit­tee more than any­thing,’’ she said.

That brought a smile to Chris­tian’s face.

‘‘I’d rather say my piece and if that’s not in line with the other 10 or 12 blokes, that doesn’t worry me,’’ he said.

‘‘I’ve had to come back in at the next meet­ing and apol­o­gise a lot of times. But I said what I thought and that’s what re­ally mat­ters in the end.’’

Af­ter 44 years, Chris­tian has made an in­cred­i­ble con­tri­bu­tion to the com­mu­nity at large, par­tic­u­larly to the racing in­dus­try. He now plans to re­tire to spend more time with Kay and his fam­ily on their west Echuca farm.

Above all, Chris­tian is in­cred­i­bly happy with his de­ci­sions on the com­mit­tee and the re­sult­ing legacy it has left him.

‘‘I wouldn’t want to live any­where else and I wouldn’t change a sin­gle thing that I did,’’ he said. Smith), CRT 2, S3 Way 2 Ca­sual v Mixed Bits (Betty McCoomb, Rachel Thorpe), CRT 6, S1/2 Plas­tered Pen­guins v Black Magic (Anthea Locke, Jen Sul­li­van), CRT 7, S4 Tradies Get The Ladies v Torrumbarry Ti­tans (Kaz Fuller, Kasey Con­der).

7.30pm: CRT 1, S3 Chico Ba­bies v Sober (Kasey Con­der, Am­ber O’Neil), CRT 2, S1/2 The Alex Daly's v Ceres (Brenda Sten­ning, Jen Sul­li­van), CRT 6, S4 Jam Dough­nuts v Son­ics (Clau­dia Maw­son, Rachel Thorpe), CRT 7, S1/2 Ea­gles v Spe­cial­ists (Linda Dwyer, Tiah D'An­gri)

8.30pm: CRT 1, S4 Mix­fits v Dream Team (Tiah D'An­gri, Clau­dia Fitzsim­mons), CRT 2, S1/2 Walla Weasal Wack­ers v No Frills (Linda Dwyer, Kaz Fuller), CRT 6, S3 The Rulers v In­fi­nesse Ex­press (Amy Fos­ter, Anthea Locke). Emer­gency and men­tor: Amy Fos­ter.

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