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Headlines Today is 01/08/2015
It was Sunday 20 April 2008 and I was on course at Caloundra to present the trophy to the winner of the Jim McGill Memorial Class 3 Plate on an afternoon where my wife and I sponsored a race for the Distressed Licensees Fund. These two men, Tommy Dawson (right) and Alan McConarchy, were at our function, so I photographed the pair. Tommy Dawson was 90 and at the time we all shared a hearty laugh when he called then 84-year-old Alan McConarchy "only a kid". Tommy Dawson has passed away this week at the wonderful age of 98. As a thoroughbred trainer based in Brisbane, I haven't seen many that were better. In fact when I wrote the biography of my late second cousin, Colin Bayliss, who was then aged 88 in June 2004, Col told me that Tommy Dawson was one of the best two trainers he'd seen in his long life. Rich praise indeed. Col's grandson Jamie was apprenticed to Tommy Dawson so he knew the stable well.

When you’ve been around as long as I have - you get to reflect on many decades worth of horses, trainers and jockeys. And in each of those four aforesaid categories there will be a few select “standouts” in one’s lifetime.

The modern-day world to me is so patronizing and passive that it’s turned pretty much vomitable – mind you not that I’m in a hurry to exit this life as an earthling, as I’m a bit 50/50 about the afterlife business.

There are virtually no hard markers left in any field and in racing almost everyone in the media continually talks the industry up – but you can’t defend the indefensible – and in the eyes of the general public, “the racing industry” is on the nose. And to that end it is its own worst enemy. One controversy after another must lead people outside of racing to wonder why the 99% of decent law abiding citizens involved in the racing industry bother getting out of bed each morning because the other 1% can sure get a headline.

So when there is a horse, trainer or jockey that is good at their game, they pretty much stand out like a beacon in Moreton Bay on a stormy night.

One such “trainer” who shone like a “beacon” was Tommy Dawson who sadly passed away yesterday. But there’s no shadow of doubt that life was good to him and the 98 years that he was afforded, is, in any fair person’s assessment, a hell of a good innings. The Bible wrote of “three score years and 10” as being a good innings but the way that people are living longer these days they soon might have to write a new edition of the Bible and upgrade the idea that most people will only get to 70.

And Tommy Dawson in living to be 98 led a good life and had the distinction of being well respected in an industry that spits people out like a chip making machine sorts out a big bag of Lockyer Valley potatoes.

In my 48years of attending Brisbane race meetings, the number of trainers whose horses I gave a second glance in a form guide would be able to be counted on less than two hands. But I always gave Tommy Dawson’s horses a second look - and maybe even a third look - as if the horse was good enough it was hardly rocket science to work out there was a smart man hanging off the other end of the lead.

Tommy Dawson was at the top of his game in what was surely the halcyon days of Brisbane racing and the battles that his wonderful Group 1 horse, Charlton Boy, would have with Fred Best’s Bengalla Lad were the highlight of a day at the races in the early 1970s. Both men have now passed away, but they don’t make trainers like them today – nor do they make the horses like that. Fancy that pair of horses that were both Group 1 winners and filling the placings in the same race 14 times. It was just exciting going to a race meeting when they were going around. And the career of the two horses mirrored each other to the point where the duo even almost walked out onto the racetrack of dreams the same number of times – Charlton Boy had 57 starts and Bengalla Lad had 60 starts. And incredibly both even won the same Group 1 race, the Doomben 10,000 two years apart. And in one of the most amazing events in Australian thoroughbred history, the two horses' battles were so intense that when Bengalla Lad won the Doomben 10,000 in 1972 it was Charlton Boy that ran second. And when Charlton Boy won the Doomben 10,000 in 1974 it was Bengalla Lad that ran second. The odds of that happening 730 days apart at the same racetrack, over the same distance, taking on the best that Australia could throw at them, must surely be infinitesimal.

Tommy Dawson may not have trained a racehorse for nearly three decades but for those of us who were fortunate enough to watch him ply his trade as a racehorse trainer on a Saturday afternoon, we were blessed to be in his company at the same time.

Funeral details for Tommy Dawson are yet to be advised.

Racing Queensland Chief Handicapper Lester Grimmett has advised the website that the scaled weights for Doomben tomorrow are: Race 2 + 4kgs, Race 3 + 1.5kgs, Race 4 + 1kgs and Race 5 + 3kgs, Race 6 + 3kgs, Race 7 + 2kgs and Race 8 + 1.5kgs. So in my words, not Lester’s, Race 2 is far and away the worst quality race being run on the day.

Brisbane Racing Club Track Manager Jim Roberts has advised the website late today that the Doomben track is currently a "good 3". Jim added "with the warm weather around the track is back to a good 3 late today and the rail is back in the true position and it hasn't been there since BTC Cup day about three months ago".

The apprentice jockey weights for Doomben tomorrow should be:



Alannah Fancourt

53.5 claims 3kgs

Rikki Jamieson

50 claims 2kgs

Brooke Stower

51 claims 3kgs

Beau Appo

49 claims 3kgs

Luke Dittman

55 claims 3kgs

Ruby Ride

50 claims 3kgs

Sophie Young

51 claims 3kgs

James Orman

53 claims 2kgs

Bridget Grylls

49 claims 1.5kgs

Sam Payne

53.5 claims 2kgs

Geoffrey Goold


Cassandra Schmidt

54 claims 2kgs

Today on there’s an interesting story on the lack of white thoroughbreds that race globally. On there’s the story of the young man who drove his first winner at drive number 59, whilst on one of harness racing young drivers has the world as his oyster after notching up career win 2000.

As has been advised in recent weeks, The Postman is currently taking a break and has headed to the spelling paddock to fatten up a bit and he’ll return on Saturday 15 August.

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