FOSTER the support of thoroughbred horse racing in the Geelong region;
PROMOTE the Geelong region as a racing, breeding and training centre;
CONDUCT social events associated with horse racing;
ENCOURAGE like-minded people to participate in the sport, at any level;
RAISE awareness in the community of the benefits of the horse racing industry.
In The Beginning
THE Thoroughbred Club of Geelong was formed in 1983.
It all started when a group of horseracing enthusiasts, who lunched regularly at Geelong’s Carlton Hotel, discussed the possibility of forming a thoroughbred club in September-October 1982.
The principal object at that time was to lease and race a thoroughbred horse and to hold monthly luncheon meetings to discuss the progress of the venture. The matter of guest speakers was not considered at the time but later became a feature of most luncheons.
From a list of prospective members invitations were sent to attend a meeting at the Carlton Hotel in December 1982. Twenty-six people attended the meeting at which Andrew Ramsden provided information on the creation of a racing syndicate and leasing matters generally.
The Thoroughbred Club of Geelong
It was agreed that there was sufficient interest to warrant the calling of a formation meeting, which was subsequently held in February 1983 where it was resolved that "the Thoroughbred Club of Geelong be formed". The number of members was limited to 40 and the annual subscription fixed at $50. The following office-bearers were elected: President - Bernie Armstrong; Vice-President - Bob Day; Secretary-Treasurer - George Pyle; Committee - Peter Burnett and Rob Rial.
Membership grew to 85 and the club’s monthly Friday luncheons became an institution. Among the guest speakers were Ron Casey, Colin Hayes, David Hains, Malcolm Blight, Geoff Murphy, Jack Ayling, and Brian Meldrum. The venues were usually Kirrewur Court or Sladen House with a local publican inviting members back to his hotel for post-lunch drinks.
Horses raced by the Club ...
Horses raced by the club included fillies, Andaloma and Orchids, trained by Brian Gilders; Baritz Rose (Gary Hanlon) and Tondela (Mark Bairstow).
Tondela was the most successful of these horses but with an economic downturn in the late 80s and early 90s interest in the club waned, especially with its involvement in two racehorse syndicates. Attendances at the Friday lunch meetings dropped off and the horses were not paying for themselves.
Despite the tough times the club survived under president Bill McMaster and secretary Ray Lambart. Legendary jockey J.J Miller, Robert Smerdon, Gary Ayres, and Jeff Gieschen were among the guest speakers in the late 90s but attendances were still down.
Membership continued to decline and dropped to 15 at its lowest level.
Venues changed from Kirrewur Court to the Geelong Football Club to the Wool Exchange Hotel but even a time change from lunch to dinner failed to revive the fortunes of the cash-strapped club.
A New Era
In August 1999 a new committee was elected.
Robert Windmill was elected president and Ray Lambart remained as interim secretary until early in 2000 when Alex Risk took over his post. Rob Gaylard, Terry Morrissy, and Wayne Elliott were also elected to the committee.
The Geelong Thoroughbred Club was incorporated in April 2000 and Meggs Elkington, George Hanlon and Ray Nelis were acknowledged as club patrons. The club logo was redesigned, a new club tie was released and every member at the time received an embroidered club jacket.
Club membership is now more than 100.
The club changed its name back to the Thoroughbred Club of Geelong in July 2015.
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