Tradition set to continue at popular Talmoi picnic races

TALMOI Picnic Race Club, now under the leadership of president Justin Ramsay, will celebrate 106 years of racing at Garah next Saturday – a meeting that proudly continues a rich tradition of bush racing in the north-west.

The six-race meeting, featuring the time-honoured 1400m Talmoi Cup and 1000m Talmoi Bracelet, winds up bush racing’s Golden Triangle for another year after hugely successful days at Moree and Mallawa.

“It’s going to be another great meeting,” Ramsay said.

“Everyone is welcome to join the committee and the community for lunch in the president’s marquee from around midday onwards or patrons can bring along their own food and refreshments and roll out their picnic rugs for a relaxing day out at one of the best picnic race meetings in rural NSW.

“Our very own Garah P&C will also provide great food throughout the day and a couple of jumping castles, kaleidoscope face painting and plenty of other kids’ activities will make for a great family day out.”

On-course entertainment from Brock Mather will start at 4.30pm and buses from Moree as well as Mungindi will be provided.


Spectacular Lyen wins the 2009 Talmoi Bracelet in front of a huge crowd (Image Copyright Bill Poulos).

Moree buses will depart at midday and from Mungindi at 11am. Both services will leave the Talmoi racecourse at 6pm.

“We are hoping for good fields again and there is increased interest this year with the introduction of the NSW Picnic Championships Series,” Ramsay said.

The Talmoi club, the oldest on the Golden Triangle, is steeped in history and was officially formed in 1911 with 103 first-year members.

George Smith was appointed the club’s first honorary secretary and Frank Bucknell the first honorary treasurer.


Committeemen Harold Siddins, Bill Newcomen and Frank Doran at Talmoi races in 1929 (Image Supplied).

Under the astute guidance of Messrs Morse (president), Goddard (vice-president), Strong (vice-president), Bucknell (patron), Prentice, Hughes, Shaw, Onus, Morse (stewards), Siddins (judge), Doran (clerk of scales), Timmins (clerk of the course), Brown (starter), Marsden (starter), Kirkby (handicapper) and Munro (handicapper) the first official picnic race meeting got underway on November 9 at Meleebee, a grazing property about 12km south of Garah.

There are contemporary reports that picnic racing was held in the Garah district as early as 1908 at Patrick Doran’s property Noona Vale however the Talmoi Amateur Picnic Race Club was gazetted officially in 1911.

And it didn’t take long for the burgeoning club to become the darling of bush racing, with one newspaper reporting in 1914 that the Talmoi race meeting “is now considered one of the most attractive social gatherings in the north-west”.

“The isolated position of the course, the long distance from any town, and the many other difficulties that crop up are forgotten as one arrives on the pretty course.”

The newspaper goes on to say that “the large, cool bough sheds, the horse yards, the cool drinks booth, race-books that bulge with all the information necessary, and the many other aids to conviviality make one wonder how these bush folk do it all. The hospitality is enormous; the hearty handshake welcome from the ubiquitous secretary, Mr George Smith, and the entente cordiale that is ever-present makes the guests feel at home immediately”.

A special race-day train service from Moree to Garah was established in 1919 and, barring World War II years, ran annually until 1948.

The historic train service has been brought back to life twice since those halcyon days.

Around 500 patrons ‘jumped the rattler’ in 2004 for a meeting that drew a crowd of 3000 to Talmoi – a race meeting that won the progressive club the Racing NSW Best Innovation by a Country Race Club award.

In 2011 train buffs celebrated 100 years of racing at Garah by travelling to the rustic racecourse on board a 1970s 47-class locomotive – one of only six of its kind still in operation in Australia at the time and one that came complete with vintage carriages and a buffet car.


Earl Bruce, owned by Harold Siddins, is sashed after winning the 1929 Talmoi Bracelet (Image Supplied).

Around 4000 people were on hand to watch Innocent Billy win the Centenary Talmoi Cup at a meeting that again gained national prominence by winning the Community Race Club of the Year Award at the Racing NSW Country and Provincial Racing Awards night of nights.

A unique record was established in 2009 when trainer Stuart Phegan won the Talmoi Bracelet with a big, grey horse called Spectacular Lyen.

Three years later Phegan returned to Talmoi as a jockey and had three rides at the meeting – a feat never seen at an Australian racetrack, before or after.

Centenary Cup winner Innocent Billy was trained at Moree by Nathan Sinclair, who hopes to again collect the Talmoi Cup next weekend with luckless gelding Our Boy Danny.

The seven-year-old was beaten just over two lengths when third in the Boolooroo Cup at Moree then was beaten just a neck by Rusty Motorbike in the Mallawa Cup.

“A third and then a second so you’d think a win would be on the cards at Talmoi,” Sinclair smiled.

Words and Images Copyright Bill Poulos

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