Racing club thanks a loyal 44-year stalwart
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
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.