That was the start of an outstanding career for Brian - inducted into the Australian Racing Hall of Fame back in 2015 - following a career that yielded multiple Group 1 winners.
While the Mayfield-Smiths were not Mareeba-based in those days, they kept their horses at Cairns’ Cannon Park, they were regular visitors to Mareeba.
“Mareeba was always a dry joint in those days, they did not have a lot of water,” Lawrie said.
“It was one of the dryer and dusty tracks in Far North Queensland in those days.”
These days, president Malliff believes the racing surface at Mareeba has never been better.
“The track is in really good order, this rain we have had over the last month or so has been great for us,” Malliff said.
“It has really topped it off, it looks terrific and I cannot wait to race this Saturday.”
The Mareeba brought up O’Shea is considered amongst the elite trainers in the Sydney racing ranks with 28 Group 1 wins next to his name.
O’Shea’s father Bernie was a bookmaker in his younger days, which sparked John’s interest in the industry.
On his own website, O’Shea declares he started his career in racing by mucking out boxes for the local trainers as a 13-year-old in Mareeba, finding his love for horses.
"I started living and breathing horses," O'Shea said earlier in his career.
"I always looked after them well.
“I worked in one of the service stations for my old man (a petrol distributor) and I spent all my money buying feed for the horses."
While O’Shea dabbled in a future in journalism or playing rugby league at a higher level, he eventually went back to the horses, where he remains now training a team of horses out of Randwick.
The bright lights and prestigious racing of Royal Randwick is a long way from the bush track of Mareeba, but O’Shea made his way there.
And, so did Paniagua (right).
Not to Randwick, but the gun gelding went from Mareeba to Doomben within a few months, winning the Country Cup on the big stage.
Malliff trained Paniagua from a non-TAB maiden to a Cairns Cup and then onto a metropolitan winner inside a year.
What Paniagua achieved in 2020 is what every country trainer, jockey, and owner around Queensland dream of doing.
After a couple more runs in the south-east of the state, four-year-old gelding Paniagua is back in Mareeba and will be targeted towards a big north Queensland Cup campaign again this year.
Malliff reckons Paniagua is the best horse to ever come out of Mareeba, but he may be a little biased.
This Saturday at Mareeba, all five of the races on the program are sponsored by the trainers, who base their horses at the track.
The club’s president thinks the local trainers sponsoring every race shows the improvement they have made over the last few years.
“That is nice, from my perspective as president, it shows they are getting behind the committee,” Malliff said.
“We are moving in one direction now, which we did not have happen at times in the past.
“I feel like everyone is starting to work together.
“It is very hard to run a race club if trainers and the committee are not seeing eye to eye.”
On top of Saturday, Mareeba has two more race days locked in before the end of the current season.