Club Spotlight: Tambo

Long drives with a float on the back is commonplace when it comes to racing horses in regional areas around Queensland.

And, for a club like Tambo and District Race Club in the Central West country racing association of the Sunshine State, they feel they are as central as it gets – while also not really being close to any other towns.

There is no trainers and horses based at Tambo and there has not been any for over a decade.

But, when they do race this Saturday, stables from as far and wide as Blackall, Roma, Emerald, Longreach, Barcaldine and Charleville are expected to converge on Tambo – described as the oldest race track in Queensland, west of the Great Dividing Range.

That collection of towns are spread out in every direction from Tambo, coming from three different country racing associations.

Former Tambo and District Race Club president Bill Rogers says their meetings bring together a cross-section of horses, trainers and jockeys that are rarely together at other tracks around Queensland.

"We are central and drag horses from each area – that is a good thing about our club as far as we are concerned," Rogers said.

"There are some that come on the bad roads, but they will come.

"These days you have to travel to get races, four hour drive and then that way going back, it is not that bad compared to what it used to be."

Tambo race twice a year now in 2021, with Saturday their feature meeting of the year, which includes the $12,000 Tambo Cup.

It will be a six-event non-TAB program instead of the regular five races for a bush meeting.

One of the trainers who will make the long trip to Tambo is Emerald horseman Ross Meek.

He boasts an outstanding record at Tambo over the years, winning two races from just four starts, including the famous Cup, which was won a decade ago.

"We won the Cup one year, which was great, in 2011," Meek said.

"It was an old horse called Seekawinner, that I bought off another trainer.

"Bound to Me, a horse I have got now, it has won there before, as well."

Meek trains a small team of two horses at Emerald, declaring he is always on the hunt for QTIS eligible gallopers.

While his home track is Emerald, Meek enjoys a trip to Tambo and plans to start both his horses this coming weekend.

"I have been out there a fair bit over the years and I like it, it is an even racetrack," Meek said.

"It is not overly hard or anything like that, the surface, I have taken horses there that have all raced well and pulled up really well.

"It has got a good long straight, 350-400 metres maybe, but horses get home and every horse gets a chance on a track like Tambo.

"I am looking forward to getting there this weekend, ill back up my two horses after running them at Aramac seven days before.

"They get a good crowd out there; it is quite a good set up they have."

Club stalwart Rogers has been there for much of the journey at Tambo, taking in several different roles within the industry in almost 50 years of service to racing.

Approaching 80 years of age, Rogers recalls the days when Tambo raced 11 times a year with a handful of trainers based at their track, as late as the 1990s.

But, with just two meetings these days, he says it is manageable for a volunteer-led committee. 

"I first got involved in 1967-68, I used to racehorses myself – mainly grass fed – I owned, trained and rode them myself," Rogers said.

"That got me involved with it all, then I got on the committee and did a few years as president.

"My father was involved too when I was younger."

Tambo are excited to be a part of the 2021 Racing Queensland Outback Racing Showcase Series, with a heat run at the track this Saturday over 1400 metres and run as an Open Handicap.

The series started at Barcaldine recently and compromises seven heats with a final at McKinlay Race Club in June.

Long-time club committee member and volunteer Sharon MacDonnell has recently relocated to Jandowae from Tambo for work purposes.

Despite moving away, MacDonnell still has helped the club organise the race meeting this weekend.

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