According to the history books, the first Queensland Derby was won by a horse named Hermit.
The Derby was held at Gayndah for two more years, then known as the Queensland Jockey Club, until falling into abeyance and being revived in 1872 in Brisbane.
According to Waldock, Gayndah’s influence on the history of racing is often celebrated.
“Down at our museum, there is all the Queensland Derby memorabilia, banners and sashes from all those years back,” Waldock said.
“They have been able to collect lots of that stuff.
“The history is important to us and we embrace it as part of our Club’s advertising, showing that we are the oldest Jockey Club in Queensland.
“We push it to anyone that asks, telling them that they should come see the oldest club in the state.”
In 2021, Gayndah boasts a small but tight knit racing community.
They race twice a season, down from as many as five race days a year, with no trainers based at the track itself.
Local Gregory Huth started training last year, following in his footsteps of his grandfather who used to train himself, and had three starters go around in his name in the bush.
“It is great he is having a go, we used to have many more trainers but it has died down a bit over the years,” Waldock said.
Huth did not use Gayndah Jockey Club itself to prepare his small team, instead using his own property.
As has been the case in many country towns across Queensland in recent years, Gayndah has battled drought, with club members declaring their track has been dry for the best part of four years.
They received some rain in the lead-up to last Saturday’s meeting, which all the locals were smiling about.
The idea of putting a boar in at the track has been floated in recent years to help the irrigation across the racing surface and improve grass coverage.
Life-long racing industry participants, Seidner and Rhett Bellert, were on hand to help Waldock and his team prepare the track to race last Saturday.
Bellert was born and bred in the town before departing as a 15-year-old to start his jockey apprenticeship in Nanango.
“I had my first ride at Gayndah and I duly won,” Bellert said.
“She was a pretty good mare, she won six in a row after that.”
The now 58-year-old rode over 250 winners in his career, including metropolitan victories in Brisbane and winners across the border in NSW as well.
Bellert has taken a step back from the industry in recent years but still helps out his home track of Gayndah to get ready for their two meetings a year, as well as working as the clerk of scales on race days.
The club itself is run by a loyal bunch of volunteers who have been there for much of their lives.
Waldock recalled working behind the bar as an 18-year-old at the races, before eventually progressing to become the president, with his wife the secretary on the committee.
“We all pinch in to help,” the president says.
“We are only a young club as such, most people on the committee are young and trying to make the club improve if we can.”
Former president Seidner has spent most of his life in Gayndah, with his grandfather training and his father riding track work.
“It has been part of life; we just grew up that way,” Seidner said.
“It is a great industry, I love it.”
Last Saturday’s five-event non-TAB program saw buses from the Sunshine Coast and Bundaberg bring punters to Gayndah.
They sold 500 tickets prior to the race day and expected many more than that to roll through the gate on the day.
Visiting hoop Rhiannon Payne was the star of the show, riding two of the five winners on offer.
Club spotlight will be a regular feature that shines a light on the unique and individual racing clubs across Queensland.