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Club Spotlight: Morven

165211860-2979332848978273-8889980843885602506-n.jpgBy Jordan Gerrans

Over the last decade, the Morven Race Club has had a complete facelift and rebuild.

Based in the Downs region of Queensland, Morven is in the middle of several towns with deep racing history, including Roma, Charleville, and Injune.

And, while Morven is one of the smaller centres in the area, they have continued to improve their facilities and racing surface for the betterment of racing in the region.

“In the 10 years we were involved, the whole club was rebuilt, including the amenities and everything,” former president of the club Andrew McInnerney says.

Now the treasurer at Morven after a lengthy term as president, McInnerney is proud of the work his volunteer-led committee has put in over the years.

Through the redevelopments, the race club has become a multi-purpose facility for community groups and events, including improvements to the running rail, a large portion of the club is now turfed for all the public in attendance on race day as well as the saddling enclosure.

“Everything is all pretty new there now; it is a great little club,” he said.

Morven-Race-Club-02-FB.jpg“We had fantastic support from the community and the club itself as well as the Murweh Shire Council, they got right behind us and supported us.

“We had some good builders who did much of the work with a bit of grant money here or there, with Racing Queensland helping us out, too.

“That included a running rail and different things, it has been a joint effort and it is a credit to the town and community because the facilities get used for much more than just racing, it is events and things of that nature, too.”

Ahead of Morven’s five-race card this Saturday, Charleville trainer Shane Iverson is looking forward to making his return to the track.

Experienced horseman Iverson is back in the Downs region after a decade of working at leading stables in Toowoomba and Brisbane.

“They have done a hell of a lot of improvements at the track, they have an undercover betting ring now and it is all grassed around that area,” Iverson said of Morven.

“There is a new jockey’s room and things like that.

“It is a good little race committee they have; they are not horse people as such, but they turn on a great day for all involved.”

As Iverson notes about the Morven committee and club, they are community-minded people aiming to host an excellent race day for everyone in the area whenever they do race.

Morven-Race-Club-01-FB.jpgMcInnerney’s daughter, Cassie Ryan, who is also now on the club’s committee, believes whenever Morven races, it is one of the biggest community events of the year.

“It is only a small town out here, we have about 250 people I think, so the races are by far the biggest event in Morven in the year,” Ryan said.

“We have two meetings this year with the June one a catch-up meeting from last year that was rained out.

“In the second weekend of September, that is our big annual races when we usually race once a year.

“It is always well supported by the community and the surrounds, on a normal race meeting, we would get around 500 people.”

It is a family affair at Morven with McInnerney’s wife serving as secretary when he was president, despite there not being much racing history within their family.

“It is a fun thing to be involved with, the whole community gets behind it and supports it and the club,” McInnerney said.

“I was a part owner in a horse years and years ago but that did not go as I would have hoped.”

Morven-Race-Club-16-FB.jpgA permanent stable and trainer have not been based at Morven for over a decade but come race day over the years, trainers from as far and wide as Toowoomba to Rockhampton have made the trip in recent years.

McInnerney thinks a unique part of their track, for their area, is what draws in stables from long distances away.
“We run an 1800 metre start at our track, it is one of the longest ones out this way,” he says.

“In some years we stump up over $10,000 for that race, which you do not see often out here.

“It is a bit of a feature as the horses go past the winning post twice here in a race like that.

“It is a good race to watch and horses come from a long way away to come here.”

This Saturday the 2021 Morven Cup will be run over 1400 metres and will be named the Graham & Ian Sheppard Memorial.

Stables from Charleville, Roma, Blackall, and St George are likely to descend on Morven this weekend.

Iverson, who claimed Cup success at Injune earlier this month with Mishani Blossom, thinks the four-year-old mare will be competitive in the Morven Cup.

“I am sure that my last runner at Morven was the Cup with a mare called Power and Water,” Iverson said.

“I won the Injune Cup earlier this month and I got to thinking and I remembered that I had won every Cup in the area except for Quilpie.

“I have trained two winners at Morven in my life and they were both on the same day, the Cup and a maiden race.”

The Iverson team is likely to have two in the maiden this Saturday as well as the Cup contender, Mishani Blossom.

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