News

Creating champions before the dawn

A photo essay of the behind the scenes work of those involved with race horses preparing them for Grafton's July Racing carnival. PHOTO: Debrah Novak
A photo essay of the behind the scenes work of those involved with race horses preparing them for Grafton's July Racing carnival. PHOTO: Debrah Novak Debrah Novak

THIS week thousands of locals and visitors will descend on Grafton for the historic July Racing Carnival, a week-long tradition of horse racing involving punters, families, fashionistas and trainers dating back 173 years.

This year when you sit in the heritage stands at the racetrack with the 20,000 other people who make the annual pilgrimage to watch these majestic thoroughbreds, remember there were humble beginnings to this racetrack and like then the people today still work hard behind the scenes.

The wild Mylne brothers in 1839, known for their hospitality and weeklong parties, were the first to introduce cattle and horses to Eatonswill now known as Eatonsville while in 1841 a Scottish squatter, Dr John Dobie, founded Ramornie Station and was the first man to bring 15 mares to the district and it is he who the Ramornie Cup is named after.

In 1842 another Scottish immigrant, Thomas Hewitt, squatted on Alumy Creek and his favourite hobby, you guessed it, was match racing and it was the illegal fencing of his enclosed paddocks which enabled Grafton's first racetrack, where you sit on course today. Six years later Hewitt would own the first local champion horse and a strategically built pub next to the track.

Exactly 130 years ago in 1882 the official timekeeper of the track, German-born Otto Fuchs, took his camera to work and captured the first photo finish of a horse race, however it took a long time for this idea to catch on until 75 years later Grafton officially trialled photo finishes.

While there may have been plenty of competition and action on the track in the early days it spilled over into the nearby districts as well. The Clarence River Jockey Club formed in 1861 and the rivalry between the other jockey clubs in the area was fierce with Grafton's arch nemesis, Glen Innes, offering the greater prizemoney.

The Grafton racing fraternity of the day wanted to have a greater impact on racing in NSW and to be seen as the premier country racing destination. This particular colonial identity was sought after and highly regarded as an example of a community that was civilised and cultured.

A local dignitary and political figure, Thomas Bawden, suggested a new feature race could be the answer to knocking Glen Innes off its perch and it worked, the Grafton Cup celebrates its 99th birthday next week.

There are many theories in training a winner and one of those is to provide the thoroughbred with an alternative exercise program other than trackside and one of those is swimming the horses. Six days a week, horses with their trainers alongside them are rowed across the Clarence River.

This photo essay is a tribute to those who still work behind the scenes of our horse racing industry, those people and the horses up before dawn seven days a week on track and swimming the River Clarence.

Topics:  grafton horse july racing carnival



Former Magpies sons return to lead into next generation

NEXT GENERATION: Lower Clarence Magpies new coaches Anthony Hickling and Dan Randall with club president Darrin Heron (centre).

Lower premiership winner Dan Randall returns to lead 2017 charge.

Commercial fishers get extension, but it makes no difference

Ballina trawler harbour.

Deadline extended for NSW fishers buying back into the industry

Sex attacker slapped with strict supervision upon release

Violent sex offender's life after jail no walk in the park

Local Partners

Christmas has arrived in Grafton

Christmas has come to Shoppingworld as Santa arrived this morning to have his photos taken with children.


Bringing their Magic Mojo to Grafton

MAGIC: Head down to Roches Family Hotel for a brilliant mix of '70s, '80s and '90s music by Magic Mojo, a Coffs Coast band using their experience to give a brilliant performance.

Powerful trio to lift the top off Roches Hotel tonight

Catch Saturday night fever at the South Club

GEEZ WIZZ: Get your dancing shoes on for the UK Bee Geez Show.

The UK Bee Geez Show delivers a realistic tribute to pop legends

Audience in for a rare treat from husband and wife duo

Husband and wife Adam Eckersley and Brooke McClymont are playing at home this weekend for an intimate gig at the Pelican Playhouse.

"We love playing these up close and personal acoustic shows”

David Attenborough on facing his mortality

Sir David Attenborough in a scene from the TV special The Death of the Oceans.

Life without Sir David Attenborough is hard to imagine

Goooodbye Hamish and Andy (from our radios)

Hamish and Andy

The pair have been on air since 2006

Saying "I do" changed Shia's outlook on marriage

Shia LaBeouf has a new outlook on marriage since he tied the knot.

Singer tunes in to first movie role

Tori Kelly voices the character Meena in the movie Sing.

Musician Tori Kelly voices Meena the teenage elephant in Sing

Cricketing greats bring Aussie mateship to commentary box

Cricket commentator Adam Gilchrist.

ADAM Gilchrist enjoys the fun of calling the Big Bash League.

The dead help solve the case

Debut novel delivers on wit, violence and shock

Chinese locked out of Australian property market

The rules are different if you're a foreigner

The buyer was from China - the trouble started right there

Morrison signs off on new affordable rental model

Australia's Treasurer Scott Morrison speaks during a press conference after a meeting of the Council of Federal Financial Relations at Parliament House in Canberra, Friday, Dec. 2, 2016.

Scott Morrison signed off on development of a new financing model

Coast high-flyer's fight back from bankruptcy, $72m debt

Scott Juniper went from millionaire developer to declaring bankruptcy in2012, now he is back on top of his game again with new developments including this one in Coolum.

'Apocalyptic lending storm' causes financial collapse.

How your home can earn you big $$$$ this Christmas

This luxury Twin Waters home rents out over Christmas for more than $6000 a week.

Home owners earning thousands renting out their homes this Christmas

2000 jobs at multi-million dollar Ipswich project

INSIDE: Artist's impressions of the interior of the new Eastern Heights aged care precinct.

Sub-contractors needed to build $15m aged care facility

Ready to SELL your property?

Post Your Ad Here!