Karlie Zemek, Barbara Thompson and Shae Cull took top honours in the Fashions On The Field competition at Lee Park last August … this Saturday’s race meeting will be the first held in the region since February

Gunsynd's Gossip

July 30, 2020

After an absence of several months due to pandemic concerns, racing will finally resume in the South Burnett at Lee Park this Saturday.

But naturally – given the restrictions of the Covid-19 era – there will be some changes to the normal scene.

The canteen area will act as a jockeys’ room, and the roller-door window that faces the betting ring will be the service point for food and drinks.

The usual undercover seating adjacent to the bar will be spread out on the lawn, but given that sunny conditions are forecast, some patrons may prefer to bring folding chairs or rugs and create a socially distanced wagon train circle of their own.

The bar, barbecue, the TAB and the bookmakers’ ring will all be operating, and so will the regular bus services from Kingaroy and Nanango’s Fitzroy Hotel.

However, the annual Nanango Cup will not be the meeting’s feature race this year: it has been deferred to September’s Spring meeting when – hopefully – Covid restrictions ease further.

Signage regarding social distancing and the availability of hand sanitizers will also play a part in keeping racegoers healthy.

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Former long-serving Nanango Race Club president John Lee , appropriately in the winner’s slot, on his retirement day on August 1, 2015 (Photo: Ross Stanley)

Honouring Contributions

Rod Morgan will again be the celebrant for the traditional Blessing Of The Jockeys before the opening event that has become a feature of each new racing year at Lee Park.

As well as acknowledging the skilful contribution jockeys make to the industry, the brief ceremony also pays homage to those who have lost their lives or have been seriously injured as they plied their trade in dangerous circumstances.

Jockeys, along with trainers and strappers, deserve special expressions of gratitude for their role in keeping the industry rolling during 2020’s perilous pandemic.

Their sustained discipline and professionalism has underpinned racing’s continuity during the troubled months.

Memorial races will bring back fond and grateful memories of the work done for the Nanango Race Club by life members John Lee and Colin Ryan.

They both passed away in 2018 after tough battles against illness.

Lee was the judge at the re-introduction of race meetings at Nanango on April 20, 1968.

He filled that role for around forty years, was elected to the committee in 1969, and served as Reg McCallum’s vice president for six years before being elected the club’s President from 1976 to August 2015.

John was presented with the 1992 Caltex Award for the outstanding Country Racing Administrator in the state, and a Queensland Racing Community Award in 2010.

He was also a life-member of the South East Queensland Country Racing Association.

His energetic efforts in local government and for a range of community organisation were outstanding.

Col Ryan, in 2015, with Hannah Phillips and Hannah Richardson, two local jockeys who knew him well (Photo: Ross Stanley)

Col Ryan’s association also began at Nanango’s re-opening day in 1968.

Along the way, he was a committee member and a long serving vice-president.

The cattleman’s affinity with horses produced a performance as a starter that was without peer.

Col was renowned for coaxing the most reluctant gallopers into the gates and, as a mark of respect, the N.R.C. attached his name to its barrier stalls at the August meeting in 2015.

Col was ever the gentleman, acting with dignity and respect.

He was also a wonderful family man and industriously dedicated to any cause or project he took on.

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Bits And Bridles

  • The husband and wife combination of Glenn and Hannah Richardson have respectively taken out the trainer and jockey premierships at Lee Park for the 2019-2020 racing year. The Horse of the Year is Marlahn. The now deceased galloper that hailed from Garry Schwenke’s Warwick yard chalked up a win and a second placing over the metric mile during the abridged season.
  • A most interesting contest on Saturday’s Nanango card is the John Lee Memorial Handicap over 1000 metres, which will feature two top horses: Hard Stride and Eight Over.
  • It is rare to see a horse with earnings in excess of $700,000 compete in rural surroundings, but Hard Stride is the case in point. The veteran sprinter has scored four times for Toowoomba conditioner Jason Judge. Earlier, for the Tony Sears stable, his winning tally was also four. As a younger horse, Hard Stride was up to black type company in Melbourne. There he accounted for the 2014 Regal Roller Stakes field. Street Sense’s son was handicapped to tote 66.5 kilograms. Ty Wheeler’s four kilogram allowance will provide some relief for the brown gelding that prevailed at Chinchilla two runs back.
  • The local Richardson team will provide a threat with Eight Over. Octagonal’s grandson is oddly named. Its dam is Big Birdie so from a golfer’s viewpoint, the seven year-old would be better referred to as Eight Under. Hannah, fresh from a double at Bundaberg last weekend, will have an edge with the barrier draw. Her mount, on debut at home, has to manage 62.5 kilograms. Eight Over’s record with Glenn Richardson is a tidy 14 for 5-4-1. However, his best efforts have been on the sand.
  • Should the top pair find their weights too difficult, the rest of the field have to cope with just 56 kilos.
  • Saturday, the first day of August, is the official birthday for most horse breeds with the exception of the Standardbred category. The harness performers change age on September 1. Hopefully there will be a few carrot cakes put in front of our four legged friends as a birthday thank-you treat!
  • This weekend’s program will be the first in the South Burnett since February 15, and it will be great to get back into the saddle.

See you at the track!

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