Toowoomba’s Audi Centre Weetwood Handicap, like many major Australian races, is just as famous for the people who haven’t won it, as it is for those who have.
The Weetwood has long been the Holy Grail for Toowoomba racing participants, desperate to be a special part of Toowoomba racing history with their name on the iconic trophy.
Jack Ross, Ken Waller and Barry Squair are just three former gun Clifford Park jockeys who hung up their saddles without being able to win the famous sprint. Sharing in that Weetwood frustration is fellow rider Ron Goltz.
Ron is one of the most successful jockeys in Clifford Park history, but in another quirk of racing fate, failed to claim an elusive Weetwood victory despite his many attempts.
Ron remains on the racing sideline for now with a wrist injury, but on the eve of Saturday’s gala Clifford Park race day, he recalls some of his memorable Weetwood moments and disappointments.
“It’s a race I really wanted to win. Every Toowoomba racing person wants to,” Ron said.
“I’ve had plenty of goes, but it wasn’t meant to be. I don’t know how many premierships I’ve won here, but I’d trade a couple of those for a Weetwood.
“But as Jim Atkins used to say to me, there is only one Weetwood every year and there are not many races harder to win than a Weetwood.”
Ron has been placed twice in the race. First aboard Lucky Raid from the Ron Maund stable, and then on Treasure The Kwila for trainer Allan Ross.
“Those two were the closest I got, but 2010 when Poor Judge won is the one that got away for me,” Ron recalled.
“I was booked for the Weetwood ride on him, but I broke my shoulder and collarbone in a fall leading up to the race and missed the winning ride which Chris Munce picked up.”
Tiny’s Finito, Seawinnie and Kidman’s Cove head Ron’s list of outstanding Weetwood winners.
“It has been a good race for local horses, with a home-track advantage, down in the weights,” Ron said.
“But Tiny’s Finito, Seawinnie and Kidman’s Cove produced three of the best Weetwood wins I’ve seen. I’ve also got a soft spot, looking back, for Gene’s Interest who won a Weetwood for Rex (Lipp) and then came out the next year and won a Toowoomba Cup. We may never see that double again.
“When it comes to trainers, you have to take your hat off to Kevin Kemp for winning four Weetwoods on his home track.
“As far as jockeys go, what Stathi Katsidis did to ride five winners in eight years before tragically dying at only 31 years of age was just phenomenal.
“For a Toowoomba person to just be a part of the Weetwood is something special. It’s like playing in a grand final in front of your home crowd. The Clifford Park atmosphere is unbelievable.”
By Glen McCullough