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Club spotlight: Miles

Bevan-Johnson.JPGBy Jordan Gerrans 

When the Miles and District Amateur Picnic Race Club is spoken about, the topic of champion Queensland iron horse Fab’s Cowboy usually follows.

The nine-year-old stalwart of racing in the country areas of the state is synonymous with the Miles track through his trainer Bevan Johnson.

Fab’s Cowboy’s resume and list of achievements are impressive as they are long and will need to be added to in the coming year or so.

He is a record breaker when it comes to modern day racing achievements in Queensland, landing his 40th win late last year with Johnson (right) aiming to get to 45 before his career comes to an end.

His recent form is like a map of the Queensland bush racing circuit, going from Gladstone to Roma, Alpha, Gympie, and countless other tracks over the years.

“Miles is known for Fab’s Cowboy – he was always on the front of the local race book,” Johnson said.

The son of Greenwood Lake is a Miles success story, having been at the Western Downs Region town for most of his racing career after coming straight from the breakers to Johnson’s yard.

He would go on to win 10 races in his first preparation after breaking his maiden – some of the best horses in Australia would not win that many in a career.

The veteran will go into triple figures for career starts at his next assignment, likely to be a set weight race, and there are no signs he is slowing down any time soon.

“He will be back in the next couple of weeks or so, he has had about four weeks off since going to town and then the Gladstone Cup,” Johnson said.

“He is as young as ever – that is what I tell everyone.

johnson.png“It would be nice to win 45 races with him.

“There is no wear and tear on the horse, he is going good.”

Horseman Johnson (right) moved to Miles with his family as a toddler and eventually got into the racing game.

The leading bush trainer Johnson is no longer based at Miles, moving up to Bouldercombe around 12 months ago, before only recently again shifting to Moranbah – which is inland from Mackay.

He made those decisions to make it easier to race on the provincial circuit around the state, being closer to tracks like Mackay, Townsville and even Cairns to test out his best horses.

Reflecting on his time training at Miles, Johnson laughs that he probably should have won more races at his home surface than he did and says it is a unique style of track.

“It is little and tight as a track,” Johnson, who has won the local Cup several times, said.

“It is a bit like a velodrome or trotting track I reckon.

“It is horses for courses at Miles.”

Bevan Johnson Next Racing

The club will race their first and only meeting for the season next Saturday, February 13, with a five-event non-TAB program locked in, which will include the Murilla Cup Open Handicap.

“We will go back and try and win the Cup this year, Neccessitas won the Taroom Cup last week so we will now look towards the Miles Cup coming up,” Johnson said.

“That is the semi-local Cup for us now.”

With Johnson departing his home track recently, local trainer Norma King has taken over his boxes and has around a dozen horses at Miles.



Johnson, who is second on the Queensland country trainer’s premiership this season, had around 30 at one stage at the dirt track.

King also loves to travel the state with her horses, having one nominated for Mackay next Tuesday.

Ahead of next Saturday’s program, president Lance Krause says their race meeting has become a homecoming of sorts for people who have moved away over the years.

“It is a good opportunity, we have found, that ex-locals from the town are able to come back once a year,” Krause said.

“They know it will be a great opportunity to catch up with locals and old friends.

“It has become a bit of a homecoming event, the races.”

Krause’s background is not in racing but landed on the Miles committee with a focus on positive community events and was quickly elevated to the top job.

“I am here for the community event to keep going for the community,” Krause said.

“Little country towns have lost enough as it is, so we need to keep pushing on to try and make sure our facilities are good enough for the racing and good enough for the crowds.

“I enjoy being president, it would be good if we could get more enthusiastic people involved but we have a fairly young committee now, which is good, and hopefully there is a chance for us longer serving members to get a break soon.

“They can come through with some new ideas.”

In the early 2000’s, Miles hosted as many as three race meetings a year, which has been scaled down to just the one these days.

The last two years they have ran two meetings following transfers from other clubs.

Krause thinks they could comfortably run two meetings every year, if they were available to the club, which falls in the Eastern Downs region of the state.

Rachel Kerwick, who is in her 13th year as Miles and District Amateur Picnic Race Club, thinks more racing at the club would be suitable.

“We would like a second day to race every year,” Kerwick said.

Race-6-Moonshine-Lady-062A1733-JPG.JPGThere is a family focus at the club, according to Kerwick, as a friend of hers brought her onto the committee over a decade ago.

Kerwick’s late father was also heavily involved with the club before his death.

Brisbane-based jockey Adin Thompson (right) was previously based in Miles when he worked for Johnson as he completed his apprenticeship.

Still only 19 years of age, Thompson has become a consistent rider in the south-east of the state over the last few years.

Johnson’s daughter Dakota Graham is another well-known hoop to come from the town.