Casting a Critical Eye Over the Crew on the Committee of the Kilcoy Race Club

There’s been a big shake up of the committee of the Kilcoy Racing Club recently, and tucked in among the stacked board of Searles there are some interesting names.

The Searles of course are the President Conway (Con) Searle, bookmaker, businessman, teetotaller, one time door to door cow dung salesman and passionate lover of all things Kilcoy racing; the Treasurer his wife Jenny; and board member and daughter-in-law Alana. Between them they have three of the ten votes at meetings.

Arthur Gray is a local farmer, life member and long-time supporter of the Kilcoy club; Secretary David Cohen has been in and around racing at Kilcoy for a number of years; Nicola Sellwood is a popular local mum and grandma who last time I went up to the saucer was working at the local newsagent dispensing scratchies, smiles and sunshine; and Sally Jones is the DON (Director of Nursing) at the local hospital. All passionate locals, all great people.

I’m sure the other board members are too, but (with respect to the people named above) their backgrounds are a little better known to racing folk and politicians, which in the case of club Vice-President Barry Coulter is no surprise given that he was a career politician, in the Northern Territory of all places.

In fact Barry wasn’t just a politician, he was for almost a decade the deputy-leader of the Country Liberal Party in the top end, and by virtue of that standing held the role of Deputy Chief Minister of the joint. The son of a grave digger held a number of portfolios during his time in the Assembly, including being Racing Minister at a time when the NT were granting betting licenses left right and centre to corporate bookies, and as Minister for Conservation proved he was no greenie when he publicly professed a love of erosion because, he claimed, it built the Katherine Gorge. Go figure.

Bart Sinclair is well-known to Queensland racing fans as the former racing editor of the Courier-Mail at a time when Rupert Murdoch still employed turf writers whose work he could edit, and perhaps even better known to the bookies in the old rails rings at Doomben and Eagle Farm whose prices he used to jot down and relay to SP king George Freeman via the press room phones.

Retired race caller Paul ‘Dogs’ Dolan is a much loved racing industry identity who has been a long time supporter both of the Kilcoy club and of all things country racing in Queensland. I don’t know Dogsy’s political persuasion, but if he doesn’t vote LNP he’d be somewhat of an odd man out at board meetings of the club.

Kevin Dixon doesn’t vote Labor, that’s for sure. He was Campbell Newman’s hand-picked appointee to the role of Chairman of Racing Queensland after Bob Bentley was given the boot, and is a well-know supporter of the LNP. He’s also a serial racing board member who in addition to his more recent role at Kilcoy has also headed or been a member of race clubs in the big smoke of Brisbane and in Toowoomba. Some say that Searle senior is grooming him to take over the reins at the saucer when he retires, although others claim that Dixon’s ambitions are much more ambitious and that he still dreams of a comeback to the top chair at RQ.

One notable name missing from the current-line up of directors at Kilcoy is Ian McCauley, a business tycoon and husband of the former National Party member for Callide, Di McCauley. You can bet London to a brick on that McCauley wasn’t given the big push from the board because he donated $75 000 to the LNP a few years back – that would earn him plaudits, not brickbats – so perhaps the rumours of his fall out with Con Searle over questions he (McCauley) asked about the club’s finance may have legs, not that I know anything about the matter other than what I’m told.

What I do know is that the Kilcoy Race Club punches well above its weight, and that for an LNP hotbed and citadel of Tory politics it certainly receives what many believe is a disproportionate level of funding and support from the Labor Party established principal racing authority RQ.

I also know that anyone who truly believes that Kilcoy deserves to be racing in the traditional metro or near metro midweek slot needs their head read, as yesterday’s debacle vividly illustrates. The next thing you know we’ll be holding Saturday Group racing at Nanango.

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