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Dalby's Graham Buntain relishing volunteer role

3 May 2024

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By Jordan Gerrans

If you were to ask Graham Buntain what the difference was between a Benchmark 65 and a Benchmark 70 at an upcoming Dalby race meeting – he would not be able to give you an answer.

The revered club man around the Eastern Downs of the Sunshine State says that with pride.

The 78-year-old has been the secretary of the Dalby and Northern Downs Jockey Club for a little more than the last decade. 

He does not profess to being a racing expert but he is a specialist in his own field – administration.

“I do not need to know that racing stuff – my job is administration at Dalby,” Buntain said.

“And, I love it.”

The long-time club official at Bunya Park has been recognised for his service by being crowned the April winner of Racing Queensland’s Cheer A Volunteer initiative - sponsored by Neil Mansell Transport & Mittys.

Buntain’s prize follows Esk Jockey Club’s Graeme Lynch being honoured as the inaugural winner for March.

Fellow Dalby committee member Chelsea Wyatt says the respected Buntain is a star in his role and described him as ‘Mr. Reliable”.

Dalby and Northern Downs Jockey Club Secretary Graham Buntain (left).

“Graham spends countless hours working behind the scenes for the race club,” Wyatt said.

“We have had to actually spilt his role because it was just too much. It was like a full-time job, but he is a volunteer.

“In other words, we would not be able to function without the tireless work that Graham does for our club.

“He is an absolute credit to our club and no doubt he deserves some recognition for his hard work over many years for the club.”

In his role as secretary, Buntain looks after a long list of items to ensure the club is ticking along smoothly. 

They include organising race books, trophies, staff for race days, the race club marquee, viewing deck bookings, reporting and compliance, meeting minutes, mail, up-keep and maintenance of facilities at the track.

He is often letting contractors into the track before the sun rises in the morning to ensure everything is in top condition ahead of the upcoming race meeting.

Buntain was chuffed when he informed of his recognition through Racing Queensland’s Cheer A Volunteer initiative.

“I was gob smacked when I was told that I had won the award,” Buntain said.

“I did not even know that I was nominated for something like this.

Dalby and Northern Downs Jockey Club Secretary Graham Buntain.

“Once the rest of the committee and people around the club found out, they were all congratulating me. I was thrilled to win it.”

As Buntain’s knowledge of the Benchmark rating system suggests, he did not have a long history in racing before taking on the volunteer gig at Dalby.

He moved to the area from the Lockyer Valley back in 2003 after more than two decades in the air force before running a security company for a day job.

“My wife had horses all her life but I have never ridden a horse,” he said.

“When we lived at the Lockyer Valley on 40 acres, she had show horses and my role in that was to fix the fences and to pay for the feed (laughs).”

It was not until 2011 when a former committee member of the Dalby and Northern Downs Jockey Club approached him about getting involved at the local gallops track.

Those around the races had heard about Buntain’s outstanding secretary work with the RSL through the Eastern Downs area.

“The old committee member said to me ‘how would you like to take over as secretary at the race club?” Buntain recalls.

“And, that was it. I am the secretary and I have been here since.”



Dalby | Dalby & Northern Downs Jockey Club | 12:00 AM

BENCHMARK 62 Handicap

Prize money


While Buntain is busy as the secretary at the races, his volunteer work does not stop there in the local area.

He is still heavily involved in the RSL and Diggers' programs as well as the bowls club at Dalby.

“I love it,” he said.

“My wife jokes that my work at the races and everything else I do keeps me out of her hair. I am always kept busy – which is great.”

Racing Queensland’s Cheer A Volunteer initiative is designed specifically to recognise those behind the scenes within the industry.

Clubs are encouraged to nominate their valued volunteers, with monthly awards including trophies, as well as a set of bibs and cloths for the nominating club on offer.

State-wide, there are more than 8,300 volunteers who make an invaluable contribution to the industry, providing their time and expertise to sustain Queensland’s three codes of racing.

Click here for more information on Cheer A Volunteer and to nominate.

Racing at the Dalby and Northern Downs Jockey Club.