LONG HISTORY: Mount Perry Race Club president Gary Jensen has been around horse racing for most of his life.
LONG HISTORY: Mount Perry Race Club president Gary Jensen has been around horse racing for most of his life. Adam McCleery

Race president keeping track of change

Horse Racing: Mount Perry Race Club president Gary Jensen has had decades of experience, but his current role is the most challenging and rewarding.

Jensen took over the role a number of years ago, replacing someone he knew quite well - his father.

"I have been president for a good number of years now," Jensen said.

"It would be hard to put an exact number on it.

"My father was actually president before that, seemed fitting I took over."

Jensen said he always had an interest in horses, starting in the 1970s.

"I've been around horses and racing most of my life," Jensen said.

"Not that I was a punter or anything, but I did have a trainer's licence for a while.

"That was back around 1980 or some time around then, a good number of years ago."

This was not an uncommon trait amongst cattlemen and rural residents, Jensen said.

"Most of us country people are involved with the shows or the horse races in one way or another, and I was interested in horses."

Jensen said his background working the land made it hard not to have an interest in horses.

"We've run cattle, I've done some campdrafting in the past and raced an odd time or two over the years," Jensen said.

Jensen said country communities like Mt Perry weren't just animal lovers but also fiercely loyal to one another.

"All the country clubs are very supportive of one another, especially since we did cop the chop a few years ago," Jensen said.

Mount Perry Race Club used to host two races a year but had since lost its funding and was now back to one meet per year.

"We had to start funding ourselves at that point," Jensen said.

"We were lucky the mine was here and came to our aid and helped us out.

"We were lucky to be funded again, Mt Rawdon came to us. We used to race twice a year, then down to one which we lost the funding for, then back up to one a year.

"So we try to do it as well as we can, with all the money going back into the races."

Despite the loss of funding from Queensland Racing, Jensen said the Mt Perry race meet was still as much a part of the industry as the city tracks.

"You still have to race under their rules, of course," Jensen said.

"They are still very much the boss and we make sure we do what we are told, especially safety wise."

With just the one race meeting a year, Jensen said the club went all out to host a great event.

"It's a very relaxed atmosphere and I think people always enjoy getting out of the city and into the country.

"The hospitality out here also has a good reputation," he said.

"It's a small community where we are all friends, we all know our neighbours and each other."

Jensen said he hoped to see the next generation of committee members step up to protect the future of the club and ensure the race meet continued.

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