Jockey club's new life members thanked for a good race
GAYNDAH Jockey Club's committee welcomed three new life members into the fold at last weekend's running of the 150th Queensland Derby.
Barry Ahern was part of the committee for many years, acted as the club steward and became president in 1993, replacing Neville Gordon.
He had been involved with the club as a teenager, as father Jack was part of the club and owned a racehorse.
After Jack's passing in 1965, Barry became a more active member.
Wife Del became treasurer shortly after Barry became president, replacing Jan Rawlings.
Barry and Del said their best memories from their decades of service was the stifling heat on Derby Day in 1968, celebrating the Federation Cup in 2001 with country music singer John Williamson, and having country star Beccy Cole singing from the results board in the betting ring as it was too wet outside.
They recalled the days when the racecourse was just a track and a weatherboard house.
Looking forward, they said they would like to see more regular watering of the track and the option of hosting more meets a year.
During its heyday, there were six meets each year.
"It's locals such as Barry and Del that ensure our clubs stay vibrant and continue to grow into the future,” the committee said.
Barry recognised his wife, saying she was responsible for "bringing the club into the computer age”.
Ray Spencer, meanwhile, first became involved with the club when he began training his first racehorse twice a week during 1972.
He would continue to train horses for 27 years.
A horse trained by Ray placed second in the Gayndah Cup in 1975.
Ray conducted track maintenance at the club for 12 years and was also a farrier for many years.
Once, Ray memorably assisted a mounted police officer whose horse lost its shoe.
"The club would have been lost without him,” the committee said.
Ray still volunteers, with Gayndah Show Society and the Horse and Pony Club.