Hannah Phillips cracks a smile as she is about to cross the finish line.
Hannah Phillips cracks a smile as she is about to cross the finish line. Adam McCleery

Future of Gayndah racing remains healthy

AS the oldest active race track in Queensland the Gayndah Jockey Club relies heavily on cross generational support to keep the club alive for what will be 150 years in 2018.

The next generation is already stepping up this year with new Gayndah Jockey Club Vice President Stuart Kirk taking on his first race meet.

Kirk has become an active member of the community in recent years after taking on the role of Show Society president.

Taking on the vice president's role with the Gayndah Jockey Club was something Kirk chose to do after realising the important heritage of these events within the North Burnett.

"It's something that I have wanted to be involved in for a while so I jumped at it,” Kirk said

"I was nominated at the AGM earlier in the year, I didn't know I was going to be nominated but I decided to take it on.”

After becoming the new Gayndah Show Society president Kirk's name may have gone to the top of the list of choices for the jockey club.

"That could have had something to do with it but I've been helping with the races for a while now without an official title,” Kirk said.

"And they already knew I was interested in helping out.”

Being his first year as the new vice president it was more of a new learning experience for Kirk who also has an eye toward being the future president and helping the club continue to thrive.

"The racing industry is a pretty specialist industry with a lot of rules and regulations, I've always been a horse racing fan but I've still learnt a lot of things this year that I didn't know beforehand,” Kirk said.

"More industry specific things and some new rules and regulations involved in horse racing that I haven;t been privy to before.”

"For example they just changed the height for the barrier rail and I never thought about that or how important it is, it's just lots of little things like that which you don't really look into.”

The Gayndah races along with other big events such as the show and the Orange Festival play a hugely important role to the region and those that help with the events are invaluable to their success.

"They races are just like every other event in Gayndah, they don;t work unless everyone gets together and helps out and we had plenty of that help this year,” Kirk said.

"It's really good for the Gayndah and race club communities, you just have to look at the event on the weekend on see how the town comes together for it.

"And in terms of money, historically the Gayndah race course is very important to horse racing with some of the first racing in Queensland having taken place here.”

With the 150 year anniversary of the Gayndah Jockey Club set for 2018 it is the perfect time for new members to step into existing roles and keep the tradition of racing alive in Gayndah.

"We have already been seeing that, I had Josh Robertson, Luke Altham, Jason Knight, Matty Benham and Brendan Roberts all helping out with things like the barrier rail,” Kirk said.

"There's plenty of young people out there willing to help, sometimes you just need to ask.”

Kym Sawdy is one of those new people and took on the role of treasurer at the AGM earlier in the year.

"Kym is able to bring fresh ideas which were really good,” Kirk said.

"It was actually her idea to do pre made platters for people to purchase on the day which turned out to be a great idea because they were very popular,” Kirk said.

Kirk is excited for the prospects of the 150 year race event for 2018.

"Can't wait, it's going to be bigger than Ben Hur,” Kirk said.

"It's going to be great, we have some ideas we are already starting to plan for and we will look to approach sponsors soon.

"We are really looking forward to it and hopefully it will be an event people will talk about for a long time to come.”

The 2017 event was a successful one and Kirk was pleased to have been a part of it.

"I feel really good about it, from all accounts it was a success and I personally had fun,” Kirk said.

"I've spoken to a few other people who thought it was really good too.

"There's a feeling you get when you have helped plan something like this, when it all comes together it's a great feeling.”

Kirk has taken on the role of vice president with an eye to taking over the role of president when Chris Seidner, sitting president, is ready to step down.

"That has been spoke about but I want to make it clear I have no intention of challenging Chris for the leadership,” Kirk said.

"I'm happy to learn from him and when he is ready to retire I'll hopefully be ready to take over that role.

"The racing business is a funny one, you have to know what you are doing, this is definitely my apprenticeship time and it will be a learning curve.”

Kirk wanted to make special mention of those who came and supported the weekend race meet.

"A big thanks to the individuals who gave up their time to help out beforehand, on the day and afterwards,” Kirk said.

With the big 150 year race meet only a year away news of an extra $697,00 in funding for South East Queensland Racing is a very welcome development.

"That is great news for the racing community, the funding is good and the more money you have the better event you can put on,” Kirk said.

"That money will be used for infrastructure I'm sure.”

The State Government's extra funding for racing was announced earlier in the week by Racing Minister Grace Grace.

"I am pleased to be able to approve this funding program which will begin to address infrastructure requirements immediately with phase one to be completed within 18 months,” Ms Grace said.

Ms Grace spoke about the importance of regional racing to the local economies.

"Our clubs in country and regional areas are a key part of their local economies while also providing a strong social connection,” Ms Grace said.

"They need to be supported and I know these projects will make a difference to racing in South East Queensland.”

The Gayndah Jockey Club's share of the extra funding is $60,400 for horse welfare equipment, fencing, running rails and towers.

Ms Grace said that each of the submissions were assessed by the ability to improve current racing operations and how it can enhance industry returns.

Special consideration was also given to animal welfare.

Gayndah Jockey Club currently hosts two race meets a year with the next event scheduled for Saturday, October 14.

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