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A UNIQUE INITIATIVE FOR GRANTHAM FLOOD VICTIMS

The pictures on the television and in the newspapers don’t begin to reflect the true extent of devastation caused by the floods across the Toowoomba region.

The roar of the water sounded like the surf, not only on that tragic Monday when roads became rivers, but for the days after.

That combined with the whirl of helicopters overhead, firstly rescuing survivors, then searching for bodies before logging the extent of damage to Government bodies for the repair and recovery process.

As you drive around the roads there’s the constant reminder of the loss and devastation.

The scarred landscape now so bleak was once lush and green, scattered with homes and happy families.

Instead of friendly waves you’re greeted with vast expenses of debris, uprooted trees, silt and mud thick like custard, tangled fences and metal railings from broken bridges and road signs that were twisted and torn in the force of the water.

You’re left speechless, but certainly not emotionless. There’s mixed feelings of gratefulness to have your home and family spared, but guilt that so many nearby have lost so much.

Not a day goes by now when you don’t hear of another incredible story brought about by this incomprehensible force of nature that wreaked so much havoc in just a matter of minutes.

While we’ve all tried to pick up the pieces and resume some normality to daily life, there’s no doubt it will be a long time, if ever, before the horror and sadness subsides.

In the meantime, communities from near and far have rallied to try to help so many get back on their feet.

Help has ranged from mass working bees to clean-up, offering accommodation to sheer strangers, volunteering services to repair homes and financial donations to replace belongings.

In one unique and uplifting show of support, the racing industry has banded together to help the families of Grantham.

The unusual initiative involves donating some of the proceeds of owning a racehorse to the struggling families.

The Last Stride Grantham Syndicate manager, David Silver came up with the concept one sleepless night in the wake of the flood drama.

“Grantham is my neighbouring suburb and my wife and I wanted to get in and help but found it difficult due to the chaotic situation surrounding our own home at the time,” said Mr Silver.

“We felt terrible that we were so lucky compared to so many around us, but could do so little to help.”

So his way to assist involved acquiring a yearling from Clear Mountain Fairview Stud and donating two shares to the Grantham community.

The Last Stride will pay for the costs of those shares along with donating 20% of prizemoney of the three The Last Stride partners’ shares.

On top of that, the sixteen remaining shareholders will have to donate 10% of any prizemoney to the Grantham Families Trust as one of the conditions of being part of the syndicate.

Then, everyone else involved with the horse, from training fees to transport, vet and farriers would have to contribute 10% of their monthly bill to that Trust.

In December each year, for the lifetime of the horse’s racing career, The Last Stride Grantham Syndicate will turn over the proceeds of the Trust to the Grantham community to do with as they please.

“They may want to divide it up amongst the families and put it towards Christmas, or they may want to build something for the community as a whole. It’s up to them,” said Mr Silver.

Everyone Mr Silver approached was keen to be part of the fundraising initiative.

“I’m not at all surprised by the response,” said Mr Silver.

“This disaster has touched everyone in some way and was so close to home for everyone involved in this partnership, they all jumped at the chance to be part of it.”

Clear Mountain Fairview Stud was keen to offer one of their most well-bred yearlings, a colt by Outback Prince out of top broodmare Proud, along with donating 10% of their agistment costs.

“This is just a small token of what we can do to assist and hope it can relieve some stress and pressure off the families from the Grantham community,” said Stud Principal, Bob Frappell.

“We also hope it may provide an outlet where the citizens of Grantham can look forward to be entertained by the Sport of Kings and escape their hardship, even if it is momentarily.”

The Last Stride Syndicate trainer, Michael Nolan who is donating 10% of his monthly account said he has had a good run with all The Last Stride syndicate horses so far.

“We haven’t had too many duds and the last couple have been quite handy, so I’m happy to continue,” said Mr Nolan.

“This is a nice gesture for the people that have lost something and a way of continually raising money for them over the next few years.”

Others to saddle up include Oakey Veterinary Hospital, Warwick Veterinary Clinic and Higgins Transport, all willing to donate 10% of any of their bills to the Last Stride Grantham Trust.

Magic Millions has given a nomination into their race series worth $3000 and the Thoroughbred Trainers Service Centre/RISA has waived their $3000 costs to set up the syndicate.

“The loss of James Perry, the Steward in Toowoomba, has brought the impact of the floods very close to the team at RISA (which includes the TTSC),” said RISA CEO Myles Foreman.

“Like most organisations we have been looking at ways in which we can support the victims of the floods and have naturally been looking for ways in which our support can be linked to the Thoroughbred Racing Industry.”

Westpac Toowoomba branch Manager Joe Hannant is another who is keen to be on board with Westpac offering to manage The Last Stride Grantham syndicate account as well as kicking off the funds.

Mr Silver just wants to give these people something else to think about, even if just for a little while.

He envisages the families coming together to watch the horse run, with his ultimate aim to see the horse make it to Toowoomba’s Fitton Insurance Hopeful Plate in September and then onto the Magic Millions Carnival in 2012 – the first anniversary of the flood tragedy.

“There’s nothing like the thrill of racing, watching your horse thunder to the finish and cheering your heart out for him to get over the line,” said Mr Silver.

“I just want to be able to put a little bit of joy like that into these families lives, so we can all come together and have a good time, have something to look forward to and at the same time hopefully raise a bit of money.”

It’s a long way from what these people really need – their homes and loved ones returned – but hopefully it will give them something positive to cheer for over the next few years.

The shares of The Last Stride Grantham Syndicate are now available. There are 20 shares in total with only 13 left. The 5% shares are $3005 which includes all costs (breaking, agistment, transport, registration, veterinary, etc) up until April 30.

When this colt is in training the monthly cost is fixed at $190.00 and spelling fixed at $80.00.

If you would like to know more about this special syndicate please call David on 0413 603 588.

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Photo: Older brother Zahas Pride has collected over $250,000 in prizemoney (Noel Pascoe photo).

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Photo: Older brother Tycoon’s Pride is heading toward the 2011 Weetwood Handicap on March 31 (3-Way-Photos).

Clear Mountain Fairview, 122 Woodlands Road, Greenmount QLD 4359
Phone: 07 4697 1198    Fax: 07 4697 1258    admin@clearmountainstud.com.au

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