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Club Spotlight: Middlemount

Middlemount-Race-Club-01-website.jpgBy Jordan Gerrans

To ensure their club is front and centre in the minds of all regional jockeys in Queensland, Middlemount Race Club will put their money where their mouth is in 2021.

The club’s committee has recognised in recent years that due to their location, being based over 200kms inland by road from both Mackay and Rockhampton, that trainers and owners’ of gallopers looking to go around at their track can, at times, struggle to book a jockey.

So, ahead of the 2021 race day, which is headlined by the $11,450 Middlemount Cup – the club have created three new initiatives to entice participants to the track.

A $50 travelling rebate for all horses not earning prize money (fifth and back), an $80 rebate to each jockey per ride and a trophy for most successful jockey and trainer, will all be introduced this week with the club to foot the bill.

President Bill Gray explained the club had long discussed an idea of how they would best attract jockeys to Middlemount and they are hopeful it pays dividends in the long-term.

Middlemount South Foxleigh Mine, a big supporter of racing in the region, has come on board as a sponsor for the new initiative.

“We have been pushing for this for some time and this year we have organised sponsorship for the jockeys an extra $80 a ride for them at Middlemount, giving them $300 a ride,” Gray said.

“Just where we are in the country area, we struggle to get jockeys at times and that is our idea for trying to help get some extra riders here.

“A few of us at the club came up with the idea and we approached one of our sponsors and they have come on board.

“We have got a set of silks with their logo on it and one jockey will wear those colours in each of the races, we will offer it to number one in every race and if they do not want it, we will go down the numbers until we get someone who wants to use them.”

9df7bfe5-9552-44ff-b437-a435ba768a5a.jpgOn the back of the extra rebate to jockeys, Brisbane-based hoop Adam Spinks is making his maiden trip to Middlemount this week. 

Spinks knows the region well, spending time with Mackay trainer Lyle Wright for three months in 2018 during his apprentice days and has made regular trips north to Cannon Park and Townsville.

During his time in the north, Spinks never ventured out to Middlemount but following the new additions to the club have decided on for riders, he said he was keen to get out there and support the industry in the Capricornia region. 

"Hopefully this can help the club," Spinks said.

"All those places up there can struggle to get riders from time to time and hopefully this can help the community and the racing club.

"Us jockeys from down here in Brisbane, hopefully we can get up there and put on a show for the people in the community as they love their racing.

"The closest I have probably been before is Emerald so I am looking forward to getting to Middlemount this weekend."

The 27-year-old Spinks has been busy travelling of late, riding at Gatton on Tuesday, as well as visits to tracks like Esk and Nanango.

He also said he was looking forward to riding for country racing stalwart Glenda Bell while at Middlemount.


Middlemount-Race-Club-07-facebook.jpgAs Middlemount works on building their jockey representation come race day, the club is propped up by three visiting stables every year.

Those in Middlemount note that a permanent trainer has not been based in the town for the best part of 15 to 20 years, when the club raced as much as six times a year.

So, with no one training on the track itself, three of the stalwarts of bush racing in the Sunshine State stack the fields with their gallopers.

“The likes of John Manzelmann, Bevan Johnson and Glenda Bell, they all give us great support for our meetings as we do not have any local trainers,” Gray said.

“In our entire area, including Clermont and Moranbah, if it was not for those three trainers, a lot of these clubs would struggle to fill up their fields to race at.”

Outside of those big three stables, Middlemount attracts runners from all over Central Queensland, being located 90 minutes from Emerald, Moranbah, Clermont and being a couple of hours from provincial clubs Mackay and Rockhampton.

The club has tipped in an extra $12,000 in prize money across the five non-TAB races this Saturday, aiming to attract the best fields possible.

Middlemount is one of the newest racing clubs across Queensland, only forming in the 1980s.

Being a mining town, which provides the race club in 2021 with several different sponsorship opportunities, the club was built as the town progressed around 33 years ago.

Gray, who has been with the club for the last 15 years and has been around racing his entire life, with much of his family involved, detailed how the club formed.

Middlemount-Race-Club-00-Image-1200-x-508.jpg“The original president was the late Graeme Acton – who is the brother of Alan Acton – who races Outback Barbie in Brisbane and still live around this area,” Gray said.

“Graeme was the President on our first race day all those years ago.

“So, the story goes from all the years ago, we could have had a new hospital or a racetrack and because there was a hospital around 70kms away at Dysart, the town decided to go with a racetrack.

“They thought they did not need two hospitals close by so they got a racetrack.”

To honour Graeme Acton’s influence on the club, a race has been named after him on this Saturday’s program, a Ratings Band 0 -55 Handicap over 1475 metres.

Also on Saturday, the Middlemount Race Club aim to provide a family friendly environment and will also run rides for kids throughout the day, with the area not having a local agricultural show annually, so the race club aims to fill the void.

A dirt track, Middlemount has a 1700m racecourse.

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