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