READY FOR RACING: Torbanlea Picnic Races chief steward Eddie Broome checks out five-year-old Zyrtec at the track.
READY FOR RACING: Torbanlea Picnic Races chief steward Eddie Broome checks out five-year-old Zyrtec at the track. Jocelyn Watts

Chief won't tolerate horseplay

SEVENTY-four-year-old Eddie Broom has been the chief race steward at the Torbanlea Picnic Races for the past 20 years and will oversee the racing again today with a small army of helpers.

In the early days he used to race horses himself but since 1990 he’s been volunteer chief steward “to see that everybody’s doing the right thing”.

Eddie takes safety seriously and doesn’t tolerate any fooling around or bad riding.

He’s fined jockeys in the past for careless riding and once even put a jockey out of the competition for back-chatting him.

“You’ve got to be pretty tough on them,” Eddie said.

Horses are brought from as far south as Toowoomba and as far north as Rockhampton to race and although there have been a few falls on the racetrack over the years, there have been “no bad ones”.

He’s helped by a team of stewards including starters and finishing judges.

Eddie said he’d seen some tight finishes in his time and since there was no official photo taken on the line it was up to the three judges to decide who had won.

“We’ve just got to do the best we can,” Eddie said.

“Whatever they say is final.”

He said none of the stewards was allowed to drink alcohol during the day but when the racing was over, they “love to have a coldie then”.

Apart from the horse racing, the picnic race day features a range of other events including wood-chopping, a crosscut saw relay, tug-o-war, food stalls, a licensed area, circus workshops, foot races, a jumping castle and a merry-go-round.

Kicking off with the first event about 9am, the Torbanlea Picnic Races is a fundraiser for the groups that use the sportsgrounds and admission is $5 for adults and $15 for families.



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