Race day with a doggie difference
GREYHOUND racing may be under a cloud.
But dachshund racing, at least in Middlemount, is on the rise. And town newsagent Bill Gray is pretty happy about that.
The dachshund race is a feature of the town's annual Middlemount Race Day, held on July 30. .
This year, Bill, along with his good mate Matt Hite, were awarded life membership of the Middlemount Racing Club.
Eight years ago, the financials of the club were not too healthy, but since then the pair has transformed its fortunes.
"We've turned it around to make it a big social day,” Bill said.
"The last meeting had 1500 people.”
There are no local trainers, he said, "but we had trainers from Gladstone, Roma, Rockhampton, Mackay and Townsville come”.
"Wayne Baker, from Roma, had three winners on the day so it was certainly worth his time.”
Bill hopes it's "onwards and upwards” from here.
"It's well-supported by the community, but we do struggle with numbers,” he said.
"We make it a family day. There's rides for kids - we spent $15,000 on them this year - so it's well catered for.”
It's been a big year for Bill and his wife Carole. In July they also celebrated 10 years' ownership of Middlemount's only newsagency.
The pair acknowledges the business is a lot quieter than when they first bought it - but at least they don't have to get up so early now to run it.
"Improvements in paper delivery methods (have helped),” Carole said.
Local issues have affected the business and people's social habits have changed, she said.
"Not so many people are coming up town these days,” she said.
"They used to grab a coffee, buy a scratchie, meet up with friends.
"It seems like more people are at home on the computer now.
They are changing the business mix - even selling bicycle tubes and pumps.
But the race day has been a big positive for the Grays - and the town.
"It has been quite a big year,” Bill said. "The event will be bigger and even better next year.”
As for the diminutive doggie dawdle, the future is rosy.
"We've been presenting the Dachshund Race for three or four years now,” Bill said.
"It raises funds for the Capricorn Rescue Helicopter; it makes $1500-2000 each year.
"Dogs come from Yeppoon, Moranbah - we've got a special set of (small) barriers for it.”