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Club Spotlight: Thangool

Thangool-Race-Club-15-facebook-BOB.jpgBy Jordan Gerrans

Racing administrators and participants in the town have been pushing for it for decades and in 2022, TAB racing will finally arrive in Thangool.

The regional Queensland club – based inland from Gladstone in the Capricornia racing zone – has long dreamed of taking racing in the area to the next level by being broadcast around Australia.

After further improvements and additions to the facilities and racing surface at Thangool, they are ready for two TAB race meetings in the coming months.

As veteran trainer Pat Brennan, who previously was the president of the Thangool Race Club, remarks, the racing industry in the local area needed to take on the challenge of TAB racing to ensure their future within the sport.

With Monday afternoon thoroughbred racing a rarity in Queensland, Thangool hope to find their niche on the first day of the working week on Monday, February 28, and Monday, June 6.

Current club president Dan Mussig, who has been in the role for two years, is not settling with two TAB race days in 2022, he wants to again lift the number of race meetings broadcast from Forde Park in Thangool next year and beyond.

“We are excited to go national for the first time,” Mussig said.

“We have been trying to do it forever and people who have been around the club for years are not quite sure how we have finally got it but we have.

“We are really looking at the chance of possibly picking up more TAB days next year, we are pushing for those.

“Even other clubs in our area that have been trying to become a TAB race club for some time were surprised that we were able to.”

One of the crucial elements of being able to race on a Monday is volunteer and staff availability, which Mussig is pleased to be able to say Thangool will have no concerns around.

“A lot of volunteers and love from certain members of the committee has been done to ensure this is all ready,” he said.

Trainer Brennan, who been in racing all his life, was strong in his almost two-decade long presidency that Thangool needed to convert to become a TAB club and is over the moon that Mussig and the current committee have been able to get it over the line.

“I kept saying for as long as I can remember that we have got to go to TAB,” Brennan said.

“Dan took it up and ran with it and it will be a great move for our club and Racing Queensland to take on the challenge.

“The club will show up great on TV, I have been to a lot of race clubs around Queensland and we will look as good as most.”

Thangool-Race-Club-05-facebook-1.jpgBrennan, who has family and friends around the Darling Downs region, pointed to the recent success of Gatton as a club as their number of TAB days have increased in recent years.

Forde Park has seen significant improvement in recent years through investment from the club itself and a grant from Racing Queensland.

The club have installed a new running rail, 24 day stalls, a fresh finishing post, a brand new judges stand as well as purchasing a new tractor, which has led to a softer training surface.

Brennan is semi-retired and has just the one galloper in work in early 2022 – last-start winner Kravitz – and is proud to see how much the club and its committee have reinvested in recent years.

“The running rail makes the track look very attractive,” Brennan said.

“The club has spent around $50,000-$60,000 every year for the last 15 or so on infrastructure.

“Over that period that equates to a lot of money being put into our track to get where we are today.

“We just kept doing a little bit whenever we could, to improve the infrastructure.”

The stalwart is just one a few stables based in Thangool, alongside Damien Rideout and Jason Devine, who both train a team of around 10 gallopers.

With TAB racing soon coming to Thangool, Mussig says the Rideout and Devine yards are growing stables.

The track itself is located on the western outskirts of Thangool and 12 kilometres south of Biloela.

President Mussig, who got his first taste of the industry as a barrier attendant almost 14 years ago, is also aiming to add new initiatives to the “race day experience” in the Capricornia region.

“This includes taking select people up to the racing tower so they can watch the caller call the race, the patrons sit up there and watch it from the top as the caller would,” Mussig said.

“We also taking a few people over to the barriers to allow them watch the start of the race – safely of course – near the barriers.

“They watch the horses get loaded and jump out and from my experience, most of the people are just blown away by seeing it up close.”

The club last year also ran their first Ladies Day – which will be held again in April 2022 – with an eye towards introducing new patrons to the racing industry.

The annual Thangool Cup, set to be held in September of this year, regularly attracts around 3,000 punters on-course.

Before their first TAB day later this year, Thangool races a non-TAB race day this Saturday with seven events on the program.

Following the cancellation of the final six races on the Emerald Jockey Club non-TAB race meeting on Friday, December 31, two additional races were added to the race meeting at Thangool.

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