Com­mu­nity salutes char­ac­ters

Monto Race Club cel­e­brates 90 years of ac­tion on track

Central and North Burnett Times - - ADVERTISING FEATURE -

PUN­TERS cel­e­brated in style this year when Monto Race Club notched up its 90th an­nual car­ni­val.

The club has cre­ated its fair share of his­tory since the first am­a­teur meet was held in 1928.

All those years ago, the races were run at what is now the air­port.

They mi­grated down the road to the club’s cur­rent home in the 1930s, known then as Up­per Bur­nett Am­a­teur Rac­ing Club, be­fore adopt­ing the Monto Race Club moniker in 1946.

The glory days were the 1970s – elec­tric­ity was in­stalled at the track, the price of ad­mis­sion was $1.50 and a schooner only set you back 30c.

Now, 90 years on, rac­ing in the district is alive and kick­ing.

Famed trainer and lo­cal larrikin Ken Glead­hill has cer­tainly added a few chap­ters to Monto rac­ing folk­lore.

The self-pro­claimed “bodgie basher, tool sharp­ener, tank sales­man, wiz­ard and bull s**t artist,” lists these for­mer pro­fes­sions among the 34 qual­i­fi­ca­tions on his busi­ness card.

The old timer’s love af­fair with rac­ing be­gan in Bris­bane, when, as a nine-year-old, he got his start by wag­ging school to help clean sta­bles.

Run­ning with the wrong crowd in his teens landed him in strife and his fa­ther gave him a “kick up the arse”, ban­ish­ing him to the bush.

The rest is his­tory.

It be­gan a 60-odd year, on-again, off-again ca­reer in rac­ing, dur­ing which he trained over 100 win­ners at rac­ing meets through­out out­back Queens­land.

His first was at the Cam­boon Cup. The horse, Kiown, was owned by his good mate Ces Mur­phy.

Glead­hill had worked with Kiown for just six weeks. His train­ing li­cence ar­rived in the post two days later and he was hooked.

His crown­ing glory, he said, came in 1975 with a nine-year-old named Leg­endary.

“His owner reck­oned he was fin­ished,” Glead­hill re­called.

“He was chas­ing cows in the pad­dock and no­body else would take him. He was bug­gered and looked a mess.

“I fed him bet­ter than my wife and kids for two months.”

So con­fi­dent was Glead­hill be­fore Leg­endary’s first start at Gayn­dah, he warned the jockey not to win.

Third would suf­fice, he didn’t want to be bur­dened with ex­tra weight too early on the come­back trail.

The in­struc­tion was the same a fort­night later at Eidsvold. Leg­endary ran third both times at a can­ter.

Three weeks later, Leg­endary blitzed the field at Monto, the first of 19 vic­to­ries un­der Glead­hill, go­ing on to win at ev­ery track in the North Bur­nett.

Glead­hill still rates the day as one of the hap­pi­est of his life.

And he still rates Leg­endary’s jockey that day as one of Aus­tralia’s all-time greats – Kenny Rus­sell.

The man is im­mor­talised in bronze at Monto’s Lions Park.

There are many names syn­ony­mous with rac­ing in Monto – Goody, Hut­ton and Ride­out, to name a few – but none more fa­mous than Rus­sell.

Rus­sell was born and raised in Monto, a much-loved and revered jockey who dom­i­nated cen­tral Queens­land rac­ing in the 1970s, rid­ing an es­ti­mated 500 win­ners.

Af­ter con­quer­ing the bush, he moved on to the big­ger meets of the Gold Coast, Bris­bane and Syd­ney where his suc­cess con­tin­ued.

Rus­sell was a favourite with own­ers and pun­ters alike, rid­ing a then-record 92 win­ners to the premier­ship in Bris­bane dur­ing the 1986/87 sea­son.

A fall at Rose­hill in Syd­ney brought about his tragic and un­timely death in Oc­to­ber, 1993 - just four days af­ter his 42nd birth­day - but his legacy lives on in Monto.

This year’s an­niver­sary event fea­tured a mem­o­ra­bilia dis­play that took race­go­ers for a trip down me­mory lane, pay­ing trib­ute to the last­ing legacy of Rus­sell and the club’s other stal­warts.


MUCH-LOVED JOCKEY: Rac­ing le­gend Kenny Rus­sell’s statue sits proudly in Monto Lions Park.

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