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Club Spotlight: Bundaberg

v3imagesbinc5cda11ca98134b8c74847af5ce637a5-fb3b7viobzgs5w1wtu2.jpgBy Jordan Gerrans

A progressive gelding owned by those in the fruit industry of Queensland is capturing the imagination of countless within the Bundaberg community.

Mostly a non-TAB club racing on the sand at Bundaberg, a local “superstar” has emerged over the last 18 months that is also bringing in new fans and punters into racing.

King Klaus is the popular galloper's name, a winner of eight races from just 14 starts, and is trained by local horseman Gary Clem and raced by a tight-knit bunch of local connections.

The son of Love Conquers All started his career on the bush non-TAB circuit and quickly emerged to claim victories at Doomben, Toowoomba and the Sunshine Coast not long after.

“King Klaus, he is a bit of a superstar,” Bundaberg Race Club secretary Shanyn Limpus said.

“He has racked up a lot of wins that horse.

“The local connections support every one of our meetings and get really excited when he wins, so it is nice to see them on a winner like him.”

Local trainer Clem, a former jockey himself before the weight got the best of him earlier in his life, detailed his star galloper's cult hero status in the town .

First starting out as a trainer back in 1995, Clem labelled King Klaus the best galloper he has ever prepared to go to the races.

“He has got a really good following,” Clem said.

“The Martens’ in the ownership group – they grow melons, zucchinis, macadamia nuts and other things – they are farmers from around Bundaberg.

“And, the Beestons, they are retired and just sold their big fruit business here not long ago.

“They have had horses for a fair while and bred from the mare they had, which became King Klaus.

“When he goes down to Brisbane or surrounding areas to race, Bundaberg really gets behind him.

“The owners know a lot of people through fruit and markets and lots of those people live around Australia and love their horse racing – they all follow him.”

The same ownership group raced Khasahn, who won four of her 12 starts between 2006 and 2008, before she was retired and eventually produced Bundy fan favourite King Klaus.

Clem, who on top of his training duties works shift work driving cane trains around his area, knew King Klaus was on another level to any other galloper he had ever trained through his sheer speed.

The former jockey completed about six months of his apprenticeship, riding 17 winners around the Bundaberg and Gladstone areas, before he got too heavy and had to pull the pin.

King Klaus’ last triumph was in late April of this year on the Darling Downs and he has been in the paddock since and is likely to find a first-up race to resume in over the next month.

“He can mix it with them down around the south east,” Clem said.

“He loves the 1000-1100 metres the most.”

King Klaus

Bundaberg-04-Web-Cup-2015-field-down-straight.jpgKing Klaus won his home track on the non-TAB circuit in the middle of last year and those that were not able to be on-course that day were quickly able to view the race online, through the efforts of the Bundaberg Race Club.

“It is really important for our club to be advertising ourselves like that, everyone and everything is online now," Limpus said. 

"if you are not on Facebook and Instagram, they will just miss you and they will not be able to come to our events.

“It is also very important for us to get our race replay videos as quick as we can, that way all the connections can see their horses at non-TAB races.

“The more you can get the race club out there, the better.

“The club has picked up; the committee is progressive and they have worked hard to get business and sponsors on board.

“It has become more than just horses really; it is really social.”

Secretary Limpus has been with the club in Bundaberg for almost seven years and was brand new to racing before she took on the role and now says she is passionate about the industry.

The club is going through a transformation that is hoped will bring more trainers to the region as well as improve the standard of racing at Bundaberg.

The Thabeban Park-based club has recently received funding and grants through Racing Queensland and the local council to build more stables and upgrade the racing surface.

“There has been a lot of changes in my time here, we have had a lot of renovations this year, including a track upgrade and new stables being built at the moment,” Limpus said.

“They have been a long time coming, being sand our track needed an upgrade for some time.

“It has had a lot of wear and tear over the years and being a training track, it is used every day too and from a maintenance perspective, that will cut the costs down for the club.

“The course proper will be upgraded and fix the camber in the track, so there will not be as many wash outs because of rain into the future.

“Hopefully with the new stables, that may attract a few more stables to the region, with about 20 more to be built.”

Bundaberg-05-Web-Cup-2015-close-finish-at-post.jpgThere are six trainers based at Bundaberg in the middle of 202, with Darryl Gardiner the leading stable, which Limpus and the club’s committee hope can increase once the new boxes are ready.

Bundaberg is predominately a non-TAB club for much of the year but usually races one TAB day a year, which was a mid-week Thursday most recently, with the club looking forward to a Saturday TAB day in the first month of next year.

Bundaberg races seven times a racing season at their track.

The club are looking forward to their Bundaberg Gold Cup meeting this Saturday, with their carnival to also host a golf day and Calcutta in the day’s leading into the $15,000 Cup on the Saturday.

The Bundaberg Race Club expect this week’s Cup meeting to be a tourism boon for the region with hundreds set to descend on the country city for the occasion.

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