Quinn's 35 years at the top

DEDICATING 35 years of your life to ensuring a fledging club grows and prospers is no mean feat.

It is the ultimate in sporting commitment, especially when it’s all voluntary.

When the Tweed River Jockey Club (TRJC) held its annual general meeting in November, Murwillumbah’s Bernie Quinn was amazingly appointed unopposed for an unprecedented 35th consecutive term as chairman.

It is an accomplishment that drew much praise from the Australian racing community, and one that TRJC secretary manager Steven Huggins believes is unparalleled.

“Bernie’s contribution to the club has been immeasurable,” Huggins said.

“He is just so active; always thinking about where we’re heading and working in the club’s best interest.

“Many of the projects the club has undertaken have been Bernie’s inspiration, and it is thanks to him that we are where we are today,” Huggins said.

Quinn was first elected president – as the title was known then – on the November 2, 1974, after serving four years on the committee, replacing 29-year veteran Pat Quan, who was unfortunately involved in a motor vehicle accident on the way home from the races that claimed his life.

A respected racing enthusiast, Quinn has also served 34 years on the Northern Rivers Racing Association committee, and currently holds the position of vice chairman, having stood down from chairman, a position he held for four years.

“I’ve done a lot for racing and racing’s done a lot for me,” Quinn said.

“I put my head down and bum up and here we are today.

“I am happy to lead and keep leading the club into the future.

“We have been through some tough times, but things are good are good at the moment, and financially the club is safe, which is the most important thing.”

When Quinn first started at TRJC, the club raced three times a year, with Anzac Day being the biggest meeting. Over the past 35 years though, the stalwart has worked tirelessly on attracting more stables and sponsors.

Quinn ensured TRJC was one of the first clubs to race in NSW as a TAB club, and in turn was responsible for a major hike in calendar meets.

At one stage the meet count spiked at 33, but a gradual decline in recent years has seen the number of race days dramatically diminish to 11 – nine TAB and two non-TAB – and that’s an area Quinn wishes to address.

“There used to be 40 or so bookmakers operating here on any one race day,” Quinn said.

“Thirty-odd races was probably too much, but 11 isn’t enough.

“I believe the Murwillumbah track could comfortably handle at least 15 meetings a year.

“That’s my next goal, to increase the number of meets, so that should keep me busy for a while.”

Away from racing, Quinn is also a proud local business and family man, working originally as a butcher, then selling cars out of Bernie Quinn Motors – a dealership he ran for almost 40 years.

TRJC’s first meet of the New Year is on Sunday, January 3.

  •  There have been three racecourses in Murwillumbah - there was one west of the town, one south, known as Robrick Park, and finally where they are today at Tygalgah’s 65-acre complex.
  •  The land was bought by the TRJC members and committee for £700 in 1878, and at the time they were one of only three race clubs in NSW to own their own racetrack.
  •  There are three tracks in the present complex – the course proper, a ‘B’ grass track and a sand track.
  •  Originally there was a golf course in the middle of the course; it remained until about 30 years ago.

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