The Brisbane Racing Club (BRC) will host a very long lunch on the members’ lawn of Eagle Farm on Friday, long enough to feed 375 guests and raise money for the rehoming of racehorses.
Organised by Lorilie Cunningham and her ‘Well Groomed Racing’ group, the event is directly supporting Jane Gollan’s not-for-profit organisation, Transitioning Thoroughbreds.
Gollan’s foundation kicked off in 2019 with a mission to retrain and rehabilitate retired thoroughbreds for new careers.
Gollan is the wife of Brisbane trainer Tony Gollan, and she is a gifted equestrian. Her efforts in the rehoming of retired racehorses earned her the 2017 Godolphin Welfare and Thoroughbred Award, and she has rehomed over 100 horses to date, with an eye on much larger targets through her foundation.
Friday’s raceday will host a number of small events in fundraising for Transitioning Thoroughbreds.
“We’ve sold the naming rights to four races, which the BRC kindly gave us at a reduced price,” Cunningham said.
“On the day, we are also auctioning the naming rights to a future raceday, and of course we’re going to be pushing donations throughout the event. Jane has prepared a beautiful video that will be broadcast on the big screen, so we’re hoping that will also help with on-course donations.”
Bringing in new people
The Well Groomed Raceday is a sell-out event on Friday, with Cunningham targeting both racing and non-racing people.
“Apart from the VIPs and people from racing in general, we’ve got a whole group of people that haven’t been to the races before,” she said. “I’m really excited about this because we’re trying to get people engaged with going to the races who really know nothing about it.”
“I’m really excited about this because we’re trying to get people engaged with going to the races who really know nothing about it.” - Lorilie Cunningham
In this respect, Cunningham has first-hand experience.
She and her husband Gary moved into racehorse ownership in 2017. They’d long had the finance and interest to buy thoroughbreds, but it just didn’t happen until they met Clint Donovan at Magic Millions. He introduced them to Tony Gollan who in turn introduced them to bloodstock agent John Foote.
Today, the Cunninghams have upwards of 25 racehorses, a superb collection of broodmares and a significant stake in Ridgmont Farm.
Cunningham hopes that Friday’s raceday will help with this too, bringing new people into the sport in the name of a good cause.
“The beginnings of me creating Well Groomed Racing was to engage new people, bring them to the track and educate them, and at the same time raise money,” she said. “It all dovetails together.”
Sunday best on Friday
Friday’s Eagle Farm meeting features eight races, with the fundraiser woven through the day’s proceedings. Cunningham said the BRC had been hugely supportive of the event from the outset.
“They were delighted with this event,” she said. “They were excited that we got the numbers that we did, and got them so quickly. The BRC has been very helpful, and it’s a two-fold thing that we can bring the people to the track who are regular racegoers, and raise money in the process, and the club gets the benefit of that too.”
The event will be MC’d by Mark Oberhardt, one of Queensland’s most popular media figures. The Hamilton Band will play throughout the day, and Cunningham said she is encouraging attendees to dress up in their Sunday best.
“Our theme is feminine, because the Well Groomed committee is all women, but that’s not to exclude men,” Cunningham said. “The idea is all about getting dressed up beautifully, going to the races and feeling good.
"It’s going to be a really great social day for those that want to hang on every race, but likewise for those that want to sit there and just enjoy the music and the day.”
Written by Jessica Owers