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Cyclone Debbie: Harness Racing Community pulls together

Popular Harness Racing trainer and breeder Shawn Grimsey with wife Michelle watched as the creeks rose and a sheet of water covered their Tamborine property. On the day of the floods at 4pm the water level did not seem to present any danger to Shawn, by 7pm the water was only meters from the back door, all access roads were cut and stranded motorists were parked in the property entrance which was the only high ground. By 11.30pm the SES arrived in boats and at midnight Shawn and his family were evacuated.

Shawn is the son of Barry Grimsey, the President of the Gold Coast Harness Racing Club, and a strong member of the Harness Racing Community on the Gold Coast.

PHOTO: Flood waters quickly rose and inundated the Tamborine property.

The aftermath of cyclone Debbie saw falls in excess of 700mm in a twenty-four period in the hinterland, swelling local creeks and the Logan and Albert river catchments.

Shawn’s property at Tamborine in the Gold Coast hinterland flooded including the family home, stables, sheds, farm equipment, training track and paddocks. The property is on the Albert River which is usually a sedate stream which soon turned into a raging torrent.

Shawn evacuated his family, and this is where the Harness Racing community came into action. Well-known local trainer Grant Dixon took Shawn’s horses and put the family up overnight in a wonderful gesture of support.

PHOTO: the height of the flood water can be seen on the kitchen bench.


PHOTO: extensive internal damage to the interior of the home.

After the waters subsided, the clean up began. Many from the local harness racing community, family and friends turned up to help. Josh, Sam and Damien Stainkey came in with trucks to help remove the debris, Andrew and Tanya Ryan helped with a weeks accommodation and the cleanup. Even members of the pony club, Brad and Delaine Noy were there to help and worked tirelessly to strip wall, remove debris and prepare for the return of the horses. A large caravan was sourced for the family to allow them to stay on the property as the long haul with the reinstatement of every part of the property begins.

PHOTO: Mud is always the aftermath left as flood waters recede.

The Gold Coast harness racing community is typical of the sport in Australia with grass roots support coming from all sectors of the industry to help when help is needed.

In an amazing show of resilience, Shawn has already fielded a runner at Albion Park with Western Jewels running 5th at Albion Park and three more running this Friday (21/4/17). Shawn and his family will survive this setback and with help, contribute enormously to the Harness Racing industry in Queensland and Australia for many years to come.

It was gratifying to see that Racing Queensland CEO, Dr Eliot Forbes, as well as Ladbrokes and Unibet, to name a few, have instituted support programs for those in the racing industry affected by the floods throughout the state. The SES should also be congratulated for their selfless assistance under difficult circumstances night and day in maintaining life and safety.

Harness Racing has a very bright future if the quality of the participants that make up the industry are represented by those on the Gold Coast.

Approved By Dean Baring www.harnessbred.com

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