By Geoff Newling
Former NSW Country rugby league winger Lindsay Bowne faces a challenge on a different sporting grass this weekend.
Bowne, who coached the Werris Creek Magpies in the Group 4 Second Division with club icon Ron Dellar for the past three years, is the new track manager at Tamworth Jockey Club. Sunday’s Hygain Romantic Dream 2YO Plate meeting is his first since taking on the job last month.
“It’s my first test,” Lindsay Bowne said. “See what we can achieve but the track has come up nice. There is plenty to do but it’s a good challenge.”
Overnight rain also left the track in a Heavy 10 for Sunday’s meeting although Lindsay believes it will improve to a soft status.
“That’s in the lap of the gods,” he said. “Be nice though if we could have a soft track for the babies. It looks like being a good race. Neil Godbolt has a couple in it again. He won it last year with Harnova.”
Neil Godbolt is one of three trainers with a pair of Romantic Dream runners. Luke Thomas and Brett Thompson also have a pair and between they have half the field of 12.
Thompson will saddled up Alotafox, who won a barrier trial at Tamworth recently, and Marada. They drew barriers four and 12 respectively. Thomas, who trains out of Muswellbrook, hasn’t fared well in the draw with Comes “N’ Goes (10) and Pleasure Bomb (11) starting out wide with only Marada deeper than them.
Neil Godbolt has fared much better in the barriers with Hinchinbrook filly Taken On Chance jumping from barrier two and Harbour Watch gelding Star of Theharbour going from five.
“They’ll all be coming out of the new 1000m chute at the 1000m too,” Lindsay Bowne said. “The track was looking a picture earlier this week but is now a Heavy 10. With a good breeze though be nice to get back to a soft for Sunday.”
He hopes to put a new drainage system at the turn during a “renovation period” later this year as the new job takes up more of his time. That’s the main reason he has “retired” from the rugby league coaching ranks although he will remain on the Group 4 committee and try and help them provide good competitions for all the players.
“I had a good time coaching with Ronnie at the Creek,” he said. “Played in two grand finals. Got beaten by a point by Kooty and then won one at home against Dungowan. This year we finished just outside the semis. Just didn’t have enough players and had a few injuries. I’m still on the Group 4 committee and want to help out there.”
Bowne started his working career as a 16-year-old apprentice greenkeeper at Swansea. He played a few games for the Knights juniors before heading to Grafton with Rip Taylor.
“I played country in 1986 or 87,” he recalled. “Played against Papua New Guinea in Bathurst. I was on one wing and Rod Wishart the other. Big Dave McCann from Gunnedah was in the side. Mark Ryan from Moree too and Neil Moy. Mark Maines too."
He went from there to Cronulla before heading back to Byron Bay and representing Country again. Preparing the Tamworth track for its Romantic Dream 2YO Plate meeting is his most pressing concern. “The challenge is there,” he said.