Lack of glamour, but lots of spirit
By ADAM HICKS
OVER the range and left at the knee-high tin sign lies the rocky dirt path to a day of racing glam ? Tabulam style. Go past the pile of discarded couch frames and tattered carpet and enter the property that proudly advertises 'corn grown here'.
Admission costs $12 for adults and $8 for studs and pens (that's students and pensioners).
About 4000 people and about four million flies gathered from all over the region on Saturday for the biggest event of Tabulam's racing calender, the Tabby Races held at Tabulam racetrack.
One horse owner said the ground looked more like a goat field than a racetrack.
But to the untrained ob- server it looked more like a bumpy, oblong grass donut with a hole full of cars (due mainly to the car park in the centre of the track).
The feature race of the day, the Sam Hordern Memorial, saw five horses competing for the $4000 cheque.
Like the flies, Errol O'Driscoll has seen the running of every Sam Hordern since it started 38 years ago.
"Errol is the mayor of Tabulam," said Northern Rivers race starter Alan Leslight.
However, Mr O'Driscoll thinks of himself as more of a troubleshooter.
"If they get into trouble they call me," he said.
"Officially I am the race co-ordinator, but I don't know what 'co-ordinator' is supposed to mean.
"I'm just here in case they get into trouble.
"Yesterday we didn't have a race caller, so I got on to Bill Senning and he got on to this fella from the Gold Coast."
Mr O'Driscoll joined the region's racing committee in 1964 and is the only current life member.
To him, like most at the track, the day was a big social event.
"I'm just here tagging along," he said. "It's a terrific social event and it's got better and better each year. But we need to prop up the prize money a bit.
"Three years ago the prize money was $10,000 more than it was this year. "When it started in 1966 Sam Hordern put up $500 and a $50 trophy. "That was a lot of money then."