May 14, 2018
Punters at this year’s 96th annual Burrandowan Picnic Races were greeted with a couple of big surprises when they came through the gates on Saturday.
The first was to discover race club had built a new covered area over the formerly uncovered betting ring – a giant structure that reared into view as soon as patrons made their way past the rear of Burrandowan Hall.
The $50,000 building came into existence thanks to a $35,000 Gambling Community Benefit Fund grant, assisted by a $15,000 contribution from the club’s funds.
It was only completed a month ago, and has been connected to the electricity supply to support fluorescent lighting and flat-screen TVs so racegoers can now see what’s happening at other tracks around Australia on race day.
The meeting also unveiled extensions to Burrandowan Hall’s kitchen, which will provide valuable extra storage areas and some relief from the weather when horse cutting events and campdrafts are held at the track during hot or cold weather.
The final touches to this $35,000 extension – which was paid for by the Chahpingah Reserve Association out of their own accumulated funds – were only completed a day before this year’s race meeting got under way.
The new covered area was officially opened by Opposition leader and Member for Nanango Deb Frecklington, who said she was impressed by the Race Club’s initiative.
“This covered area is a great addition to the racecourse and I’m sure many, many people will benefit from this,” she said.
“Congratulations to everyone involved on a job well done!”
Race Club officials were also pleased with attendance numbers this year, which delivered one of the biggest Burrandowan race days since the heyday of construction work on the Tarong Power Stations between 1979 and 1985.
Almost 2000 people came through the gates, including 450 who camped out at the track, some arriving as early as the previous Tuesday.
Unusually, this year’s meeting was cool and windy thanks to the remnants of an Antarctic front that battered southern states earlier in the week.
But rather than depress attendances, the weather only seemed to encourage guests to assault the Mon-Dee Coffee-2-Go van and the Lions hot chips and Rotary barbecue stands with extra vigour.
Race Club secretary Carolyn Stone said she was at a loss to explain precisely where the extra guests came from but thought the uniqueness of the meeting may have been a big factor.
“There are very few picnic race meetings left in Queensland now, and most country race meetings are associated with particular towns,” Carolyn said.
“But when you come to Burrandowan you’re out in the bush, the nearest town is a long way away and there’s no mobile coverage.
“I think there are a lot of people who appreciate the uniqueness of that these days, and are looking for a true country racing experience.”
As usual, guests got to enjoy the full spread of Burrandowan’s raceday regular fixtures.
Apart from a card of five races featuring some highly fancied horseflesh, there was also the popular Fashions On The Field competitions; gourmet grazing boxes and cheese boards; Devonshire teas inside the historic hall; and the always popular race club bar.
Later in the day after the last race had been run, Burrandowan’s pit-fired barbecues roared into life so overnight guests could enjoy cooking their own smoke-flavoured steaks in the open air, followed by a night-time of entertainment ushered in by the Kingaroy State High School Band and followed up by South Burnett band, Risa.
Carolyn said the Race Club had been very pleased with patron behaviour, and happy there had been no serious incidents on either the track or the concourse.
“Our security team did ask a couple of patrons who misbehaved to leave the grounds, and police tell us they detected three incidents of drink-driving,” she said.
“This is higher than the zero level we always aim for every year, but it’s still a good outcome and we’d like to thank the overwhelming majority who did the right thing.
“We’re always happy when things go to plan and everyone has a good time without any hassles, and this was another one of those years.”
Some of the profits from this year’s meeting will go to RACQ LifeFlight, while the rest will be used to replenish the Race Club’s bank account.
“It costs us about $80,000 to stage a meeting and we always try to keep that amount in the bank as a life raft so that we can go again if we’re ever rained out,” Carolyn said.
“The funds we put into the new covered area have put us below this basic life raft level, but patronage was up so much this year I think we can get back to it pretty quickly.”
The next Burrandowan Picnic Races will be held on the second Saturday of May in 2019.
[UPDATED with correction: in an earlier version of this article we stated that a protest had been lodged in the second race of the day; the protest was actually lodged in Race 1]
Race 1 – The South Burnett Times Class B Handicap (1050m)
1. Lucky Larrikin (3) – Gemma Steele
2. Churchill Dawn (6) – Hannah Phillips
3. Kyrie Eleison (7) – Louise Dillon
Margins: 1/2 length x short half head
Race 2 – Hot FM 89.1 Grahame Downes Memorial BenchMark 65 Handicap (1050m)
1. Monte Lago (12e) – Melissa Cox
2. Flavian (4) – Joshua King
3. Boaz (11e) – Hannah Phillips
Margins: Short head x 3/4 length
Race 3 – 4SB1071 / O’Reilly Nunn Favier Surveyors Patrons Cup QTIS Maiden Plate (1175m)
1. Torquato Tasso (3) – Jason Hoopert
2. Super Freak (7) – Joshua King
3. Ringo’s Magic (4) – Mark Elliott
Margins: Short length x 2 lengths
Race 4 – CROW FM 90.7 / BGA Class 2 Plate (1175m)
1. Mr Bon Vivant (4) – Shane Shield
2. Vancouver Star (6) – Joshua King
3. Zooming Over You (8) – John Rudd
Margins: 1/2 length x 1 length
Race 5 – Clovely Wines Burrandowan Cup BenchMark 50 Handicap (1740m)
1. Get Outa Utah (6) – Jason Missen
2. Jacaranda Prince (2) – Cheryl Rogers
3. Our Clarky (1) – Natalie Morton
Margins: 1 1/2 lengths x 3/4 length