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Club Spotlight: Talwood

Talwood-Race-Club-facebook-03.jpgBy Jordan Gerrans

For as long as those in the area can remember, it has been a core group of volunteers who have kept the Talwood Race Club ticking along smoothly.

Names such as Geoff Phillips, Jim Montgomery, Bruce Webster, the Rae and Mitchell families, they have been there for decades, with several recently going past the half century mark for service to the racing industry in the region.

Talwood is based right on the border between two racing zones in Queensland, situated in the Eastern Downs area and right next to the border of the Downs region.

They race once a year and while many involved the club admit to not being rusted on racing followers, it is about bringing the community together in Talwood.

Talwood President Col Mitchell, in the role for the last four years, detailed just some of the efforts from those in the town to bring racing to life once a year.

“We have had a few of our committee members just roll over into their 50th year of service, Geoff Phillips and Jim Montgomery, they are two of our longest serving members,” Col said.

“Geoff still donates his time, he is a farmer out here, he is the curator of the track and would have served his 50th year last year, and seeing as we did not race last year, we are going to make a mention and celebrate his 51st year, this year.

“He has been a member for 51 years and has been curating the club for 30-odd years.

“They have been very good members of the club and that is what everyone is about, once in your in the club, you do not really get out.

“Everyone is happy to come together for that one day a year, to get it all organised, there is a lot of long-term members at our club who have been doing it for 50 years or so.”

The former President of the Talwood Race Club, Alan Rae, was introduced to racing by his father and grandfather, both of whom held the title of president of the club before him.
“That is why the club has kept going because we have a core group of members that have been around forever, we come in and do our jobs before the race day,” Rae said.

“We have to get the track ready or whatever the task may be, or get the infrastructure ready, it just happens.

“It is only once a year and we would turn up a week before, have a week of working bees to get everything ready.

“The thing about our club, you do not need to ask our volunteers and committee members twice, if you give them a job, you know it’s done, they are just that kind of people.”

Talwood-Race-Club-facebook-05.jpgBetween Alan Rae and his brother Bruce, the pair have committed for over 100 years of service to the club.

The 65-year-old Alan Rae, who was President of the club for over a decade, will miss his first edition of the Talwood races in his memory this weekend, holidaying in the north of the state.

For many around Talwood, the Race Club is one of their earliest memories.

“We have all been tied up with the club since we were kids, I can remember going down there with my father the following day after the races, picking up the rubbish to help out and clean up,” Rae said.

“It is in our blood.”

Secretary for the last 10 years, Kellie Mitchell recalls first meeting people in the area of Talwood when her family moved to the town around two decades ago through the races.

“It is really only our only community even we have a year, we do not have many annual events like a show or fate, so we rely on the races as part of our entertainment,” Kellie said.

“It is a community event as well to get people together for their mental health and well-being.

“It is just as much a social day as it is about the racing.

“It is also one chance for us to do something nice like get dressed up and go to the races as it is close to home, normally if you want to attend any functions out this way, you are travelling 100 kms or so.”

Five non-TAB races will be run this Saturday with $15,000 on offer for the Talwood Cup winner of 2021.

A dirt track, the club received 56 nominations across their five events when they were released on Monday.

Stables from Goondiwindi, St George and Roma are set to descend on Talwood, with trainers from south of the border, including Moree, also visiting in recent years.

Talwood-Race-Club-facebook-01.jpgTalwood works hand in hand with the club at St George, sharing the new barriers that were recently provided to St George.

As the main social event for Talwood every year, the races can attract around 500 people annually.

“It is true bush racing, really, the track is really rustic and the facilities around it are in keeping with that rustic appeal,” Kellie said.

“We are on the dirt, it will be a good fast track, which it always is at our club.

“We are celebrating our 90th year of racing this year.”

Being a renowned farming district of Queensland, the Talwood Race Club have an interesting way to raise funds for the club every year, the club secretary explained.

“We actually plant the middle of the track with wheat, and the outside of the track, and we harvest that, with the funds going to the race club,” Kellie said.

“It looks magnificent this year so we are racing amongst the wheat basically.

“It is pretty picturesque too, the horses running past the green wheat.

“It depends on the year how much money it makes for the club, it could make up to $30,000 in some years.”

Club spotlight will be a regular feature that shines a light on the unique and individual racing clubs across Queensland.