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Marthaguy Picnics bounce back bigger

Western Plains App

Coonamble Times

05 July 2024, 8:40 AM

Marthaguy Picnics bounce back biggerBest Dressed Gent winner Dominic Spora from Gulargambone and Sydney runner-up Maximilian Ringbauer.

Quambone escaped the rains on Saturday 29 June for a day of punting and cheering as the village put on its first Marthaguy Picnic Races in three years. 

A mix-aged crowd of 250 spectators from the shire and beyond lined the fence to watch six races with jockeys from across western NSW, including Bathurst, Gilgandra, Cobar and Dubbo.

The gate opened around 11am to a sunny morning fit for racewear, with the crowd tucking in to a free midday lunch serving butter chicken with rice and lasagne with salad ahead of the action. 

The races hit an early speed bump when an unruly Rylstone Rocket unseated jockey Emily Harrison and bolted down the track as riders mustered to the barriers for the first race, planned for 1pm. 

Ms Harrison was unhurt and continued to ride for the rest of the day, although she and the horse were scratched from that race.

Race three almost saw a win for Coonamble racing royalty. 

An 'awe' went up from the crowd as a razor thin margin of four milliseconds put Dubbo trained horse Belle O'Balle first ahead of Bupkis, trained by Coonamble-bred Clint Lundholm, who is now based in Dubbo. 

Things took an unexpected turn after the final race when second placed Zara Lewis and third placed Ms Harrison each lodged a protest against first place Leandro Ribeiro, one alleging Mr Ribeiro's horse had bumped another during the race. Both protests were dismissed.

PHOTO: Coonamble’s Jess Walker takes a punt on ‘Intense’ for race four. 

Feathered hats and fashionable jackets

Judges were spoiled for choice in the fashion competitions. 

Grace Hopcroft (daughter of Leigh and Toni Garnsey, Carinda) sported a beige jacket and navy blue akubra to take the sash in the Women's Under-30s, while Cathie Colless (Come by Chance) won the Over-30s decked from the waist up in a black jacket, turtle neck, hat and gloves. 


Local hat enthusiast Janet Perry from Sandhurst, Quambone dazzled with an impressive set of red, black and white feathers atop a black hat to win the bouquet for the Best Millinery. 

The men didn't disappoint either, with an old-style look from Gular's Dominic Spora (complete with binoculars) and a splash of colour on Sydney's Maximilian Ringbauer wooing the judges.  

PHOTO: Best Dressed Lady Over 30 winner Cathie Colless from Come By Chance and runner-up Katrina Shelton from Quambone.

'Excellent' day of racing

Marthaguy Picnic Race Club Secretary Marg Garnsey said the crowd was "a little light" compared to usual pre-COVID numbers, but that didn't get in the way of some "superb" racing. 

"We had huge compliments on our track, we had great compliments on the meals and the hospitality." Ms Garnsey said. "There's not been many races on, so we had full fields, twelve jockeys, five bookies. We don't have those numbers usually."

"Everyone left with no injuries and all horses left with no issues. So that makes it a good, safe racing day."

Marthaguy Picnic Race Club volunteers Clint Andrews and Marg Garnsey, jockey Eloise Drews, Harriet O'Brien, trainer Kirssie Simpkins, sponsor Chris O'Brien and club member Simon Turnbull with winner of the O'Brien Winters Partners Marthaguy Cup, Distinctive Glory. IMAGE: Coonamble Times - River McCrossen

The picnic race meetings struggled to get off the ground after they were cancelled in 2020 due to COVID. 

They made a comeback in 2021, but were cancelled on 2 May 2022 with just four days to go after 50 millimetres of rain fell on the racecourse in late April. 

Lightning struck twice when, on 3 May 2023, a visiting stipendiary steward from Racing NSW declared the track unsafe to race due to cracking in the ground. 

This year, over 20 millimetres hit Quambone the weekend before the 11 May racing date and postponed the meeting to June 29, where everyone revelled in a fine 22 degree day.

There'll be no reset for Quambone's weary volunteers.

Many of the race club members also work and play at the Quambone Polocrosse Carnival set for this weekend 6 & 7 July.