Large crowd big plus for Terang

Wayne Johnstone and Frank O’Connor show off a collection of local pacing legend Gammalite’s trophies which the O’Connor family had on display at Tuesday’s race meeting.

CROWD numbers were all the talk at Terang Racecourse on Tuesday, as more racegoers than anticipated attended an originally unexpected race meeting.

Terang and District Racing Club vice president Shane Scally said officials were “surprised” with the turnout after they had predicted an industry crowd.

He was pleased with how the day ran overall, with the club receiving the meeting as part of their status as a transfer club within the industry.

“It’s gone really well,” Scally said.

“Everybody’s really surprised at the crowd; we’re just really surprised with the amount of people here.

“It was a Warrnambool meeting, it wasn’t a meeting we had scheduled but due to the trouble with the track at Warrnambool, it was transferred here.”

The eight race program was well contested throughout the day, with a number of leading stables across the state bringing horses to Terang.

Symon Wilde and Terry and Karina O’Sullivan trained doubles on the day, with Darren Weir, Patrick Payne, Jennifer Smith and Deanne Taylor also training winners.

Just Before Dark and Luke Williams (blue and yellow silks) narrowly held off a fast finishing Purrfect Trick and Andrew Mallyon in race five at Terang.

The harness racing industry was also highlighted at the race meet, with Frank O’Connor displaying his family’s memorabilia of local pacing legend Gammalite.

Gammalite raced 179 times during his career, winning 94 of his races for Frank’s father Leo O’Connor and local driver Bruce Clarke.

Remarkably, Gammalite was unplaced in only 34 of his 179 races, netting $1,386,480 in prize money, which O’Connor said in today’s racing would be “close to $8 million”.

On display at the track were Gammalite’s two Interdominion Cups, the Hunter Cup and the Auckland Cup he won during his career, along with a spreadsheet of every race he ran.

O’Connor said Gammalite’s racing career galvanised the Terang community, something that he didn’t think too much of when he was younger.

He said he displayed the memorabilia after constant requests from Terang and District Racing Club president Wayne Johnston.

“Wayne has always been at me to bring the memorabilia along to display at a meeting,” he said.

“Gammalite was really popular within the community; it was something that our father always told us about, how much Gammalite meant to the community.”

O’Connor can still recall the glory days of Gammalite’s career, and said all his family members got to experience the best seat in the house.

“He was the family horse,” he said.

“Everyone did their bit at times with him and everyone had their turn at driving him at some point.

“His best win was the Interdominion in New Zealand and his best race was the Auckland Cup, where he spent 56 hours on the plane, arrived two hours before the race and won.”

The racing club will have a short turnaround in meetings, with their next scheduled race day to be held next week.

“Next Wednesday we have another meeting,” Scally said.

Nominations for the event close today, with acceptances set to close on Monday morning, and Scally said the meeting should be similar to Tuesday’s depending on those acceptances.

“There will probably be eight races but it will depend on how many horses accept, but we’ll just see what happens,” he said.

“It (the meeting) will be pretty straightforward and similar to today (Tuesday) because it isn’t a feature meeting.”

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