Mount Gambier Greyhound Racing Club

Tara Raceway, Lake Terrace East, Mount Gambier, SA

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Preserving the history

Thursday, January 25, 2018

Warrnambool trainer Norm McCullagh, who will forever be associated with the legendary stayer Bold Trease, walked into the Tara Raceway clubrooms 18 months ago after having won a 400 metre sprint with Ella Rhode.

By no means a regular at the Mount Gambier track, McCullagh had won the Mount Gambier Cup 12 years earlier with a dog called Bay Rhode in a then near race record time of 30.26 seconds and was looking for the cup honour roll and any memorabilia on display at the club.

Memorabilia on display at the Launceston Greyhound Racing Club.

At the time there was nothing for him to view. However, an honour roll listing Mount Gambier Cup winners and their trainers beginning in 1981 when Tara Topar won the inaugural cup to 2017 and the flying Fabregal for Robyn Mackellar now stands at Tara Raceway awaiting placement in an area that has been allocated for a memorabilia section.

Memorabilia displays are an interesting side to many greyhound clubs around Australia and with plenty of history surrounding coursing and track racing in the South East the Mount Gambier Greyhound Racing Club has now added this to its ever-growing list of projects requiring attention at Tara Raceway.

Bill Ward, MGGRC life member and president from 1991 to 1997, has had some input into the memorabilia project while committee member Tim Holmes, whose father Allan is also a life member, is keen to have some local greyhound history on display by the time the Mount Gambier Cup is run in March.

“I’m currently sourcing the most economical way of setting up the display,” he said. “But I’d really like to see something in place to coincide with the running of our first Listed Mount Gambier Cup.”

Holmes said there had already been plenty of items collected for display including Volume 1 of the Australian Greyhound Stud Book (published in 1940), numerous photographs and trophies, old race books dating back to the 1930s, coursing slips and collars and even a tie-on racing rug from an era when the number 6 rug was brown and not green.

He said many items had already been donated but the club would still be keen to hear from anyone with memorabilia suitable to be displayed at the track.

Race books, programmes and medallions feature in the Launceston Greyhound Racing Club memorabilia display.

Meanwhile, local historian Kevin Davis wandered into Tara Raceway the other day with an interesting article from The Border Watch dated Tuesday, December 3, 1946 – made even more interesting in view of the fact that licensed greyhound racing as we know it today didn’t commence in the South East until 1979 at Glenburnie.

The article was titled “Successful trial meeting on Blue Lake Speedway” and read in part:

“The trial meeting on Saturday afternoon on the Blue Lake Speedway at the Show Ground (Margaret Street) attracted a good number of spectators and augurs well for the future of greyhound racing.

“It was announced that, as it was only a trial fixture, runners would not be penalised. The speedway has been registered with the National Coursing Association of SA.

“The originator of the sport was Mr Stewart Sims and he has put a lot of work into the preparation of the speedway. The track has been put in splendid order and the erection of a set of boxes for starting the runners has entailed a lot of work. The distance of the track, which was around the show ring, was 375 yards.

“There were five events and each attracted sufficient entries to make for interesting racing. Trophies were allotted as prizes and when the last event, the Consolation Trial, had been decided they were presented to the winners by Mr F. Millard who said the management appreciated the attendance of the public.

“He said there were quite enough dogs to make for interesting competition. In speaking appreciatively of the work put in by Mr Sims, he hoped and believed the venture would be successful.

“Trophies presented were a silver cup, entrée dish, toast rack, wallet, two smokers’ stands and a Gillette safety razor with the recipients being Mr H. K. Frost, Mrs A. Fowler, Mrs Ashton, Mr J. Ashton, Mr G. R. McLeod and Mr K. Dohnt. Mr Dohnt, in receiving his prizes, said he hoped Mr Sims would have success with his speedway. It was the best speedway he had seen.”

The article concluded by saying that a further meeting [presumably run behind pilot dogs] is being arranged to be held in about a fortnight’s time.

The smokers’ stands and that Gillette safety razor would certainly go well in the Tara Raceway memorabilia display.

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