Gwenda off to the races

Gwenda Tait ■ has been part of the lo­cal racing scene since the early 1970s

Mansfield Courier - - Front Page -

MOST of Gwenda Tait’s mem­o­ries are tied up with a race­track.

The first date with her hus­band, Ron.

Their of­fi­cial en­gage­ment an­nounce­ment.

First prizes for the fam­ily race­horse.

Fash­ion ac­co­lades for her grand­chil­dren.

It all hap­pened track­side, the thun­der of hooves a back­ground noise Gwenda has come to as­so­ciate with good times and fam­ily.

“When I met Ron I was 17, and our first out­ing was to the Ded­erang pic­nic races,” Gwenda said.

“I guess I’ve been in­volved ever since then.”

Ron’s fa­ther, Doug, was one of the few to both own and train his own race­horses, trav­el­ling across the state chas­ing cup glory.

Ron fol­lowed in his foot­steps, the Tait men hap­pi­est on the fam­ily farm at Bon­nie Doon, stop watches click­ing as the horses raced past.

“They al­ways worked at it as a part­ner­ship,” Gwenda said.

“I guess it brought them to­gether, re­ally.”

Be­cause of the fam­ily in­volve­ment, Gwenda found her­self mar­ry­ing into a racing fra­ter­nity.

“It just be­came my life - ev­ery fort­night we were go­ing to a race meet some­where,” she said.

“The day we an­nounced our en­gage­ment we had a run­ner at Moonee Val­ley.”

Although Gwenda has never been a horse rider her­self, she has al­ways taken a keen in­ter­est in fash­ion.

While the boys were out giv­ing last minute in­struc­tions to the jockey, Gwenda found her­self watch­ing the end­less pa­rades of fash­ions.

She learnt quickly that clas­sic styles are al­ways in, and there is never, ever, a rea­son to wear thongs.

Over the last few years, Gwenda has found her­self not only in­volved with the Merton Race Club, but re­spon­si­ble for the run­ning of the fash­ions dur­ing the event.

“I or­gan­ised the fash­ions at the Mans­field Race Club for years, but Merton is dif­fer­ent – it’s re­ally for fam­i­lies; there are some lo­cals that have been com­ing ev­ery year for 150 years, across three and four gen­er­a­tions,” she said.

Noth­ing says sum­mer in Mans­field like the thun­der of hooves as thor­ough­breds turn the fi­nal cor­ner, stream­ing for home at the an­nual Merton New Year’s Day Pic­nics.

A time hon­oured tra­di­tion, the Merton Races are an out­ing all about fam­i­lies.

For­get rowdy party go­ers, this is a place for fam­i­lies to bring a pic­nic, a glass of wine and re­lax un­der the shade of the trees.

This year there will be a re­newed fo­cus on old time fam­i­lies spon­sor­ing the fash­ions, in mem­ory of those who have passed on.

Names like the Cum­mins, Dolling, Mitchell and Pur­cell have all spon­sored an event.

Gwenda, who will be there through­out the day, said it was about hav­ing fun – but she does have some tips for those look­ing to put their best foot for­ward . Gwenda’s race tips: Al­ways have some­thing on your head or wear a head­piece; Ac­ces­sories are al­ways in; Be dressed for the oc­ca­sion – if it’s cold, wear a jacket;

Don’t come dressed like you are head­ing to the beach or a night club; Don’t show too much skin; Clas­sic styles are al­ways in. For the men:

Wear a hat;

Choose sub­tle ac­ces­sories; Wear suit­able shoes.

For more de­tails on the Merton Races, go to https://coun­ com/merton.

FROM THEN TILL NOW: Gwenda Tait has been a race­goer from the mo­ment she met her hus­band, Ron. She is pic­tured here back in 1988 at the Mans­field Races. STILL GOT IT: Gwenda will be a judge at this year’s Merton Fash­ions on the Field.

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