Obliging volunteers are racing’s true heroes.
Published 20 April 2023
TONY MCMAHON brings to life the voluntary efforts of the members of the Yeppoon Turf Club and that of other such race clubs in country Queensland.
It sits sleepily in a rural setting within just a few kilometres as the crows fly (or should I say seagulls) to Yeppoon’s main beachfront.
An enigma, its surrounds are home to many of nature’s inhabitants which have this delightful bush playground all to themselves most of the year.
Birdlife proliferates on the infield pond as species, some indeed not often observed, fly in and out throughout the day.
However, the wildlife become spectators playing second fiddle when this idyllic pocket of bushland awakens three times a year to another animal species.
Such as on Saturday when the thoroughbred breed, which originates from England in the late seventeenth century, will set the theatre and take-up residence for the afternoon.
This is Keppel Park racecourse, home of the Yeppoon Turf Club fully functional as a professional outfit thanks to a small band of dedicated volunteers.
(For the likelihood of causing unintended embarrassment to these all too humble members shy of publicity, I will not name them but this storyline is dedicated to them and their genre).
Motivated by a commitment of selfless community mindedness, spirit and a passion for horse racing, they form part of a dwindling band of like-minded people which keep country racing going.
In the main they are comprised of middle aged to older citizens, willing givers in this Yeppoon’s case to horse racing with thousands of their counterparts affiliated to other such clubs and sporting disciplines.
They and their likes, throughout Australia are owed an enormous amount of gratitude by racing’s professional stakeholders.
In some cases, those “pros” do not bestow upon these people the enormous amount of appreciation they deserve – not that they look for it nor expect it mind you.
A “thank you” means more to them, than dollars in their pocket.
On Saturday, their tireless efforts of untold hours of not only labour intensified work as well the time consuming and rigorous official duties, will also bring to life pleasure for a crowd of likely a 1000 or so.
The average race goer, along with many of the professionals have little or no idea of what is required to bring about and conduct a race meeting run on the strictest of professional rules and guidelines.
These Yeppoon volunteers and their ilk are not only the backbone but also the vital lifeline for about 100 similar country race clubs in Queensland.
These obliging volunteers are the racing industry’s true heroes more so than the professional stakeholders on which reward, glory and in some cases bordering on adoration is bestowed upon.
Surely it must be recognised that without the efforts of these hundreds of race club volunteers in Queensland, the occupations of dozens of trainers, jockeys and staff reliant on bush racing would be seriously jeopardised.
Furthermore, the country race club volunteers ensure the traditional days of country racing, arguably unique to Queensland and Australia, live on and survives in a rapidly changing world.
The residents and visitors to the Capricorn Coast by having Yeppoon’s Keppel Park racecourse have the best of both worlds.
There on Saturday they will be privy to a five-race card drawing horses and their entourages from places far afield such as Roma, Emerald, Nanango and Bundaberg.
Closer to home they will arrive from Gladstone, Thangool and naturally racing’s Capricornia hub Rockhampton.
Cowboy hats, Stetsons, caps and elegant headwear will blend together all in the mix of a country race day.
As for racegoers, who knows where they will arrive from as the Capricorn Coast is now one Queensland’s leading tourist destinations.
One and all will view the racing from various positions of choice at Keppel Park.
From under marquees on elevated ground overlooking the saddling stalls or on the grassy lawns adorning the track itself.
Others will settle-in under cover seating near the parade yard, or adjacent the food and drink outlets close to the betting ring.
There they will be served by accredited volunteers from the Rockhampton Swimming Club for which the YTC will make a donation.
A delightful female volunteer from the Keppel Bay Sailing Club assists the race day sponsors with hospitality.
As well Yeppoon race meetings are renowned for their Fashions on the Field, assured by the continued support from local business houses.
While the framework of a unique good old country albeit coastal race meeting will still be in vogue at Keppel Park on Saturday, progress for expediency and security purposes has ushered change to racecourse entry
Racegoers are required to register to online ticketing entrance-attendance passes and are referred to the YTC Facebook Page with ticketing processed by Eventbrite.
Racing commences at Keppel Park at 1.30pm Saturday but gates open hours earlier for early birds of the human flock.
THE YEPPOON TURF CLUB IS A SISTER RACE CLUB TO THE ROCKHAMPTON JOCKEY CLUB WITH BOTH ENJOYING LONG STANDING MUTUAL CO-OPERATIVE ARRANGEMENTS SUCH AS THE STAGING OF BARRIER TRIALS AT KEPPEL PARK AND TRANSFERRING RACE MEETINGS FROM CALLAGHAN PARK TO KEPPEL PARK WHEN REQUIRED.