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Posted by: In: Weetwood 19 Sep 2020 0 comments

David Russell knew he was on a winner when he decided to jump aboard Toowoomba’s premier racing event.

Six years later, Wippells Auto Group and Toowoomba Turf Club are still reaping those dividends as they prepare for the inaugural spring running of the Audi Centre Toowoomba Weetwood Handicap.

The iconic Audi Centre Weetwood Handicap highlights next Saturday’s Clifford Park race day when Toowoomba shines as Queensland’s major race meeting.

David is the group dealer principal of Wippells Auto Group, the home of Toowoomba’s Audi Centre.

He has been a long-time Clifford Park race-day supporter and saw his sponsorship involvement with the Weetwood as the perfect opportunity to link with one of the city’s most recognisable names and events.

“I attended most Weetwoods for 20-odd years and always enjoyed a Clifford Park race day,” David said.

“When the opportunity came along to be involved in Weetwood sponsorship, I couldn’t think of a more fitting event for Audi to be associated with.

“It is Toowoomba’s premier sporting and social celebration.

“When we did the first one, I knew as early as then it was something I wanted to be involved in for the long run, not just a couple of years.

“I would like Audi to be associated with Weetood long into the future.

“The Audi Centre Weetwood has become a household Toowoomba racing name.

“We have aligned well and it’s something we are all proud of.

“I believe the race has evolved to the next level.

“Last year, the staff and board of the club started working with Racing Queensland at solidifying the Weetwood in its new spring date.

“We are just delighted as well to have Skye Bogenhuber as our 2020 Face Of Weetwood.

“She will do a wonderful job.

“Everyone has got behind it and hopefully next Saturday will be a special day.”

# 2020 Face of Weetwood Skye Bogenhuber will drive an Audi, compliments of the Audi Centre during next week’s Weetwood celebrations.

By Glen McCullough

Posted by: In: Weetwood 18 Sep 2020 0 comments

Most of the hard work is done, now the waiting game is underway for owners and trainers in the countdown to this year’s Toowoomba Truck Spares Pat O’Shea Plate.

The $75,000 Pat O’Shea Plate over 1000 metres features on Toowoomba Turf Club’s gala September 26 Audi Centre Weetwood Raceday at Clifford Park.

The two-year-old event traditionally helps launch Australia’s new juvenile racing year.

This year’s Plate also creates its own piece of history with its switch to metropolitan status on Saturday week’s race card.

The Pat O’Shea Plate was previously run under the Fitton Insurance sponsorship banner from its inception as a provincial-class race in 1988.

Official Clifford Park preparations for this year’s event wound up earlier this week when runners were out to earn a spot in the 2020 field with strong performances in two 870-metre barrier trials.

The colts and gelding dash was taken out by Better Than Ready colt Sherwood Prince for Nanango trainer Glenn Richardson in a time of 53.81 seconds.

The female heat was won stylishly by Flying Artie filly Princess Bojack from the Michael Nolan stable.

Michael Nolan is a three-time winner of his hometown two-year-old feature and plans to enter three runners for this years’ event.

Michael took out the Fitton Hopeful with Laurie’s Lottery (Glen Lynch, 1997) and Ghostnthedarkness (Kenji Yoshida, 2009) before combining with jockey Skye Bogenhuber to win the inaugural Pat O’Shea Plate with Greyt Start in 2015.

“We’ve been lucky enough to win the race three times including the first running of the Pat O’Shea Plate,” Michael said.

“It’s great to see the race go to another level now, and to be able to be a part of it.

“We plan on entering three of ours at this stage.

“Obviously we’ll be nominating Princess Bojack and we’ll make a final decision next week on running her.

“We’ll also enter Twilight Boom and Star Twinkle who were both placed in trials this week.

“I think shifting Weetwood day to the Spring is an exciting move and will be good for Toowoomba.”

The Pat O’Shea Plate field is expected to be dominated by entries from Brisbane, Gold and Sunshine Coast stables with trialling continuing at each centre.

Entries close on Monday with the field to be announced next Wednesday.

By Glen McCullough

Posted by: In: Weetwood 10 Sep 2020 0 comments

Chris “Choppy” Close is well remembered for his hard-hitting rugby league style and he doesn’t intend holding back either when he gets in the Audi Centre Weetwood spirit on Friday, September 25.

The former explosive Queensland State of Origin and Australian Test centre will be a guest of Toowoomba Turf Club at this year’s The TAB Calcutta Sportsman’s Lunch.

Chris will join Alan Thomas and MC Chris Bombalas as a guest speaker at the September 25 Clifford Park function.

He has declared no subject will be off limits when he shares his life and sporting thoughts with the pre-Weetdood-race-day crowd.

Cunnamulla-born Chris is no stranger to Toowoomba and Clifford Park.

He has been on previous football-related trips up The Range and has a connection to the city through his friendship with Toowoomba trainers Alyssa and Troy Sweeney and their families.

Chris starred in 14 State of Origin matches for Queensland and played four Tests for Australia during one of the sport’s golden eras.

He also enjoyed a stint as Queensland State of Origin team manager where he memorably gave New South Wales coach Phil Gould the “finger” following a Maroons’ victory.

Chris will happily recount his memories from that night and share his colourful opinion of Gould during the lunch chat.

He’ll also offer some hard-hitting and surprising thoughts on the current state of the NRL and the “worrying” future of rugby league.

“I’m looking forward to getting back to Toowoomba with Alan Thomas and Chris Bombolas and sharing some of my memories and thoughts during the afternoon,” Chris said.

“You can never be sure what crops up on the day but I’ll answer anything I’m asked and I’m not really one to hold back with my opinions.

“There’ll be nothing offensive but I’ll certainly say what I think.

“There might be a bit of colourful language occasionally, and a lot of it won’t be politically correct.

“I’ve got lots of great memories to look back on including playing four Tests for Australia which I was pretty happy about.

“But I’m not a great NRL fan these days and I’ve got some strong thoughts on where I think it’s letting the game of rugby league down now.”

The Sportsman’s Lunch will begin at noon in the Clive Berghofer Grande Atrium.

Tickets are $95 per person and include a premium two-course lunch.

For more details and bookings go to http://www.weetwood.com.au/calcutta/

By Glen McCullough

Posted by: In: Weetwood 08 Sep 2020 0 comments

He has lived and breathed some of the greatest moments in Australian sporting history and this month Alan Thomas will share some of his memories when he joins Toowoomba’s 2020 Weetwood race day festivities.

Alan and former Queensland State of Origin star Chris “Choppy” Close will be guest speakers at Toowoomba Turf Club’s The TAB Calcutta Sportsman’s Lunch on Friday, September 25.

Alan became a household name in Queensland racing and sporting circles during a 43-year broadcasting career before his retirement from the race-calling microphone in December, 2015.

He rose to popularity with a colourful, straight-shooting style.

Alan’s career highlights away from the track included 15 State of Origin calls and world title bouts involving champion Australian boxers Jeff Fenech and Kostya Tszyu.

His long racing association included numerous visits to Clifford Park where he returns this year to help celebrate the Audi Centre Weetwood Handicap’s move to its new spring timeslot.

“They say three great things have come out of Queensland – Wally Lewis, XXXX and Bernborough,” Alan said.

“And when I think of Toowoomba I think of Bernborough and the feats he went on to achieve after starting his career at Clifford Park.

“I called a few Weetwoods over the years and I have some fond memories of driving up the Range to Clifford Park.

“I haven’t worked with Choppy Close before but I’m looking forward to catching up with him.

“What a player he was. I think from memory he was player of the match in the first two Origin games.

“I was a guest last week of the Bundaberg Race Club for their Bundaberg Cup meeting and it’s always good to meet and mix with some new and familiar people.

“I got to meet Darren Lehman in Bundaberg who I had never met previously.

“I’ll be having a chat about Winx and my first impressions of her after I called her at the Sunshine Coast winning the first of her 33 straight races.

“Did I, or any of us, think that day we had just seen a horse who would go on to win another 32 straight races and four Cox Plates?

“No we didn’t.

“She was no champion when she came to Queensland and in fact had lost six of her previous seven starts.

“To think we could have a horse like her come along so soon after Black Caviar who retired undefeated is just remarkable.”

The Sportsman’s Lunch will begin at noon in the Clive Berghofer Grande Atrium.

Tickets are $95 per person and include a premium two-course lunch.

For more details and bookings go to http://www.weetwood.com.au/calcutta/

By Glen McCullough

Posted by: In: Weetwood 04 Sep 2020 0 comments

Skye Bogenhuber is a ground-breaking jockey.

She created history in 2012 as the first female to win a Clifford Park premiership before reeling off another four successive title victories to complete one of the most dominant riding performances seen at the track.

Skye also became the first – and still the only female – to win the Listed Weetwood Handicap with her 2013 Clifford Park victory aboard Miss Imagica for trainer Michael Nolan.

Her other riding highlights include Toowoomba Cup and Pat O’Shea Plate victories and a Group Two success on The Monstar at the Sunshine Coast in 2018.

Skye is currently preparing for her comeback to the saddle from an injury break.

But her next winner will have to wait for now.

It’s time for Skye to share her Weetwood passion and give back to a Toowoomba racing industry which helped launch her trailblazing ride.

Skye has been chosen from a field of 16 hopefuls as Toowoomba Turf Club’s 2020 Face Of Weetwood.

She is now looking forward to playing a major role in helping to promote and celebrate this year’s September 26 Audi Centre Weetwood Handicap race day at Clifford Park.

“Winning the Weetwood on Miss Imagica is definitlety my best Clifford Park memory,” Skye said.

“I was tickled pink being the first girl to win the biggest race in what has become my home town.

“The courage Miss Imagica showed that night to win the Weetwood and to share the moment with Michael and the owners was something I’ll never forget.

“I feel privileged to have been a part of it and now I’m looking forward to another Weetwood experience.

“I was keen to nominate for the Face Of Weetwood this year before I come back to riding.

“After being lucky enough to be chosen, I think it will be pretty cool being an ambassador for our great race day.

“I’m proud of what I’ve been able to achieve in racing and I’m proud being able to give something back for all the support I’ve received from Toowoomba.”

 

By Glen McCullough

Posted by: In: Weetwood 02 Sep 2020 0 comments

For more than 150 years, progressive changes have helped shape the success and reputation of Toowoomba racing since the first gallops meeting was run at what is now known as Clifford Park, in 1862.

Countless owners, trainers, jockeys, officials, staff and racegoers have since left their own small or famous mark at the orginal Drayton and Toowoomba Racecourse, situated in those days on the outskirts of town.

Galloper Bernborough, trainer Jim Atkins and jockey Stathi Katsidis are just a few whose names will be forever linked to Toowoomba in the national racing arena.

Many other notable names have come and gone from Clifford Park during its 158-year history.

But one name – Weetwood – has weathered the test of time to retain its unique place in Queensland racing.

Official records show The Weetwood Handicap dates back to around 1907.

The race, previously known as The Weetwood Stakes, was first run in the late 1800s.

The Weetwood shares its name with a Tor Street homestead adjoining Clifford Park.

The house – which still stands – was built in 1888 by Mr R.W. Schofield who served at varying stages as a Toowoomba Turf Club steward, secretary, trustee and committee member.

The Weetwood Handicap began its life as a low-key sprint event with the Toowoomba Cup then run over three miles (4800 metres) considered to be the turf club’s premier race.

But the Weetwood went on to become the most sought-after prize in Queensland racing for Toowoomba participants.

It is also renowned for the number of high-profile names who have been unable to win the race, including the immortal Bernborough.

Who will have their name added this year to the Weetwood honour board?

Will premier Australian trainer Chris Waller make it successive wins in the event?

Can Toowoomba’s Kevin Kemp score a staggering fifth victory in his home-town feature sprint or will a new name win a place in Weetwood history.

The answer will be revealed at Clifford Park on Saturday, September 26.

 

By Glen McCullough

Posted by: In: Weetwood 31 Aug 2020 0 comments

It’s been a long time between feature race days for Clifford Park racing enthusiasts, but that lengthy wait will come to a spectacular end in less than four weeks’ time.

Toowoomba Turf Club returns to the national spotlight this month when it hosts Queensland’s premier race meeting on Saturday, September 26.

The rich afternoon program boasts four feature events, headlined by the historic Audi Centre Weetwood Handicap over 1200 metres.

The $125,000 Listed Weetood Handicap will become a new spring target for Queensland’s leading stables, home-town trainers and interstate candidates.

The time-honoured Weetwood highlights a nine-race card also featuring the $125,000 TAB Toowooomba Cup (2000m), $100,000 Moore Trailers Toowoomba Guineas (1625m) and $125,000 Toowoomba Truck Spares Pat O’Shea Plate over 1000 metres.

The Pat O’Shea Plate heralds the start of Australia’s new two-year-old racing season.

This year’s Weetwood race day marks a new era for Toowoomba racing.

The gala afternoon meeting will be the first, in the Weetwood’s 130-year history, to be staged in its new spring-time timeslot.

Toowoomba’s premier race, until last year, was traditionally an autumn event.

Toowoomba Turf Club chairman Kent Woodford said the Weetwood’s switch to September is part of an ambitious Racing Queensland plan to help further lift the profile of the Clifford Park race day as part of a new Queensland spring racing program.

“The driving force behind the switch to spring is to become part of the Racing Queensland Spring Carnival,” Mr Woodford said.

“I think perhaps the day was becoming a little “lost” previously as a lead-in to the Queensland Winter Carnival and now we become one of the major players in the new spring format.

“This move ensures we retain our stand-alone Queensland race day and I think our Clifford Park trainers, owners and stakeholders deserve that recognition.

“Seeing the Pat O’Shea Plate promoted to metropolitan status is another huge bonus for a great event and our club.

“From a social point of view, the September Toowoomba Carnival Of Flowers is the city’s major drawcard which attracts a lot of visitors.

“It’s another plus for our major race day to run in unison with something as iconic as the carnival.

“Our September 26 race day will be the city’s first major social event since the arrival of COVID-19 and we’re looking forward to presenting Toowoomba to the national stage.”

 

By Glen McCullough

Posted by: In: Weetwood 31 Jul 2020 0 comments

HOPE Horizons Cancer Wellness Centre has been chosen as charity partner for Weetwood’s 2020 Pin & Win promotion.

With the countdown to the 2020 Audi Centre Toowoomba Weetwood well and truly on, Toowoomba Turf Club Chief Executive Officer Lizzy King said the partnership was sure to be a winner.
“The team behind Hope Horizons is incredible – they offer such a specialised service to the Toowoomba community and Clifford Park is so is excited to partner with them,” Ms King said.
The Weetwood Pin & Win promotion is part of Clifford Park’s community engagement strategy for the club’s biggest race day of the year.

“Hope Horizons plays a special role for those diagnosed with cancer and their families and support networks,” Ms King said.
Hope Horizons Vice Chairman Peter Turnbull said he was excited to partner with Clifford Park for this year’s Pin & Win fundraiser.

“A diagnosis of cancer marks the beginning of a journey full of emotion, psychological, physical and practical challenges. Some people need to leave their families and jobs to travel for treatment and living with cancer can affect a person’s mental health, which is vital in fighting the disease,” Mr Turnbull said.

“Hope Horizons Cancer Wellness Centre strives to enhance the quality of life of the people of Toowoomba and the Darling Downs region throughout and after their cancer diagnosis, encouraging empowerment through education and awareness. Our clients can expect a welcoming atmosphere with a genuine focus on individual care, where a variety of support services are delivered with professionalism, integrity and confidentiality with no out-of-pocket expenses.”

Hope Horizons volunteers will sell the pins at various events surrounding the TTC’s largest race event of the year, including:

• Weetwood Corporate Golf Day                 City Golf Club                     Monday, September 21
• Breakfast With The Stars                            Clifford Park                        Tuesday, September 22
• Weetwood Barrier Draw                             Clifford Park                        Wednesday, September 23
• Calcutta Sportsman’s Lunch                      Clifford Park                        Friday, September 25
• Audi Centre Toowoomba Weetwood       Clifford Park                        Saturday, September 26

The 2020 Pin & Win partnership is one of the first of the announcements for Clifford Park for the 2020 Audi Centre Toowoomba Weetwood. Other announcements, including the reveal of the 2020 Face Of Weetwood and celebrity appearances, will roll out over the next few weeks.

Posted by: In: Weetwood 31 Jul 2020 0 comments

APPLICATIONS for the 2020 Face Of Weetwood are now open.

The prestigious title, awarded in the lead-up to Clifford Park’s biggest and brightest race event of the year – the Audi Centre Toowoomba Weetwood – is highly sought-after.

Toowoomba Turf Club Chief Executive Officer Lizzy King is excited to see who nominates for this year’s title.

“The Face Of Weetwood is something very dear to the Club – it’s a wonderful way to engage with the community, by giving someone the special ‘limelight’ to help spread the word about the event. Our previous Face winners have done wonderful jobs. They have represented the Club and themselves beautifully.”

The Face of Weetwood will represent Clifford Park at all 2020 Weetwood events, including; Weetwood Golf Day, Breakfast with the Weetwood Stars, Barrier Draw, Weetwood Calcutta Sportsman’s Lunch and the race event itself on Saturday, September 26.

Last year’s Face Of Weetwood looked a little different with a pair of Ambassadors chosen – one male (Abraham Slatter) and one female (Megan Buckley) representative.

Mr Slatter described being the first male Face of Weetwood as a “privilege”.

“I’ve always enjoyed attending Weetwood and to be involved with Clifford Park on a more official basis, as well as being part of the events in the lead up to Weetwood, was extremely exciting for me. It’s something I’ll remember for a very long time. I’m thrilled this year’s Weetwood is going ahead,” Mr Slatter said.

Ms Buckley said the opportunity to meet and work with local businesses was a highlight for her.
“I enjoyed the opportunity to be Face Of Weetwood and I was so fortunate to and work with incredible businesses like the Audi Centre Toowoomba, Mirror Mirror Makeup Artistry, Air Hair and, of course, the Toowoomba Turf Club,” she said.

Ms King said the quality of previous nominees had been “outstanding” and encouraged racing and fashion lovers to nominate for the 2020 title.

“It is humbling to know that a number of wonderful ladies – and, sometimes, gents – in our community are so passionate about racing and, in particular, the Weetwood.

“Our Face of Weetwood will assist with raising the profile of the Weetwood event locally as well as intra and interstate. They will represent the Weetwood and all associated events with confidence, style and sophistication,” Ms King said.

Interested applicants have until Friday, August 7 to nominate at www.weetwood.com.au.

Posted by: In: Weetwood 16 Mar 2018 0 comments

2018 WEETWOOD OFFICIALLY LAUNCHED

The Toowoomba Turf Club today officially launched the 2018 Audi Centre Toowoomba Weetwood, Toowoomba’s most prestigious racing event on Saturday April 7.

The Audi Centre Toowoomba was again affirmed as the major partner and it was only fitting the local dealership showcased the reveal of events associated with this year’s Weetwood carnival.

In addition to the time-honoured Weetwood raceday, the Toowoomba Turf Club (TTC) announced that it will again deliver a week of festivities – “Weetwood Week” – that exhibits all things great about this city’s long-standing community event.

Weetwood Week will tee off on Easter Monday, April 2, where players can mix it with the stars of Weetwood at the City Golf Club. The 18-hole four-person Ambrose event is always popular.

 

The following morning, on Tuesday April 3, Clifford Park will host the annual Breakfast with the Weetwood Stars – a great, free school holiday event.  This event will enable guests to soak up all the trackside action, while watching the Weetwood stars complete their final track gallop and the opportunity to rub shoulders with the trainers and jockeys.  The Browns Office Choice Weetwood School Colour Competition will also be judged across the Darling Downs-based primary schools that have participated in the annual Weetwood in the Community initiative, plus a kids’ movie on the Wippells Autos Big Screen from 9am.

 

The Audi Centre Toowoomba Weetwood Barrier Draw will be held on Wednesday April 4 at CBD dining hotspot The Walton Stores and is a must-attend event for those with a passion for racing, as the barriers are drawn that could determine the fate of the Weetwood contenders.

The traditional Weetwood Racing Mass will be carried out the same evening, Wednesday April 4, with Father McGinley, who will bless the track, horses, jockeys and trainers in the lead-up to Weetwood.

 

On the eve of Toowoomba’s premier raceday, the much-anticipated UBET Weetwood Calcutta Sportsman’s Lunch will be conducted at Clifford Park, featuring two-time Melbourne Cup-winning jockey Jim “Pumper” Cassidy and Queensland Origin hero Billy Moore as guest speakers. Guests will also have the chance to draw the winner of the 2018 Audi Centre Weetwood Handicap while enjoying a “long lunch” with mates.

 

All the associated Weetwood Week events culminate on Saturday April 7, with the city’s annual social event, the Audi Centre Toowoomba Weetwood.

TTC Chief Executive Officer Blair Odgers felt the launch provided an in-depth snapshot of what the community can expect for the 2018 Weetwood carnival.

“The Weetwood is a community event and we have ensured the raceday and associated Weetwood events encompass everyone – from our newest racing enthusiasts, through to our most seasoned followers.

“We encourage the community to embrace all things Weetwood and appreciate one of the longest sprint handicaps in Australia, an achievement that, as a community, we should be very proud of,” Mr Odgers said.

Ticketing and hospitality packages are on sale and can be viewed by visiting www.weetwood.com.au