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Tumbarumba Cup holds a lifetime of memories for turf club president John McIntyre

Katrina Condie27 January 2022
John McIntyre with his mum Nellie and wife Theresa

John McIntyre with his mum Nellie and wife Theresa look forward to the Tumbarumba Cup. Photo: McIntyre family.

One of John McIntyre’s earliest memories is working in the hotdog stand at the Tumbarumba Cup.

As he grew older, he and his five brothers set up the grandstand, carried in the huge cast-iron tubs and filled them with ice to keep the beer cold. It was all part of helping their dad Kevin prepare the racetrack for the town’s biggest social event of the year.

He remembers his family’s phone ringing until all hours in the lead-up to raceday, all the kids too nervous to answer and take entry details for their dad in case they got the horse or owner’s name wrong.

John, known locally as “Noodles”, recalls huge storms flooding the racetrack before, during and after the big race, and helping out the TAB ladies up to their ankles in water in the betting marquees.

His father Kevin served as president of Tumbarumba Turf Club for more than 20 years and the entire McIntyre family is still involved in the event at a grass-roots level.

Kevin passed away in 2013 and, following in his father’s footsteps, John stepped up to the president’s chair in 2018 with very big shoes to fill.

Kevin McIntyre

Kevin McIntyre (right) was president of the Tumbarumba Turf Club for more than 20 years before his passing in 2013. Photo: McIntyre family.

John says the ‘Tumba’ Cup has always been a huge event for his family and the entire community. This year’s raceday, scheduled for 29 January, is expected to attract a huge turn-out as racegoers dress up and get out of the house following COVID lockdowns.

“It’s like a great big family gathering for the locals,” he says.

“If family members don’t come home for Christmas, they come for the races.

“There’s been a real buzz in the lead-up to this year’s event and I think we’ll see a lot of people keen to get out and have some fun on the track.”


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The racetrack’s in tip-top condition following recent rain. And while there are some falls forecast this week, John is hoping for clear skies on cup day.

“The track is looking perfect and we hope the rain holds off,” he says.

“We don’t want to see one of those afternoon storms like we had as kids.”

Tumbarumba residents are preparing the track

Tumbarumba residents are preparing the track for the town’s social event of the year which will include Fashions on the Field. Photo: McIntyre family.

Up to 4000 punters from as far afield as Victoria, Canberra and the South Coast will flood the track as connections vie for $67,000 prizemoney over eight races, including the Tumbarumba Cup. There’ll also be fashions on the field events and big screens airing races from around the country.

A Calcutta at Tumbarumba Golf Club the night before the races is also expected to attract a good turnout.

Racegoers can expect something a little different at the Tumba Cup. The undulating track – there’s one section where horses go out of sight – runs anti-clockwise, the opposite direction to regular races in New South Wales.

Flooding cancelled last year’s event at the eleventh hour while the 2020 event went ahead only a week after the town was impacted by the Black Summer Bushfires. It raised $8000 at the gate for the local Rural Fire Service brigades.

John says the raceday is run entirely by turf club volunteers who have faced many challenges over the years.


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In 1998 the track was shut down by authorities who deemed it too dangerous. But the committee and town banded together to rebuild it and re-opened the track in 2000.

“Everyone pitched in with earthmoving machinery and timber and we rebuilt the track with no help from racing authorities or the government,” he says.

“The whole town is really supportive of the cup, so everyone pitched in to lend a hand when it was needed.”

Following the cup, this year’s Tumbafest music festival will provide another boost for the town with Jessica Mauboy set to headline the event over the weekend of 26-27 February.

Original Article published by Katrina Condie on Riotact.

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