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Swan Hill and The Coffey Clan

Victorian Wakeful Club Committee member Briga Fliedner talks to us about the Swan Hill Cup Carnival...

Every rural community looks forward to it’s Cup Day and the town of Swan Hill is no different. The social and economic benefits of a Country Cup meeting to small communities is huge. Racing enthusiasts from all over Australia flock to Warrnambool in May and The Queen’s Birthday long weekend in Swan Hill has also grown in popularity in recent years. The SHJC offers 3 days of top class racing and warm country hospitality... what more could you ask for!

My family the Coffey’s have been attending for generations. My brother Austy always has his horses fired up and more times than not has a bit of luck. On Friday evening following Golden Topaz Day Austy hosts a huge bonfire in the front of his stables beside the racetrack. Everyone is welcome and this has become a popular event for locals and visitors. I also have another family connection to the barn Austy trains out of. My father in law Len Fliedner trained out of those stables in the early ‘80’s, they had lots of winners in northern Victoria and Southern NSW. His 3 sons, Shane, Brett and Greg were all apprenticed to him at some stage. In 1984 the three brothers all had rides in The Golden Topaz, it was the Apprentice Greg who won bragging rights on the local Louven Lady, trained by Roy McCormick. Sadly Greg passed away in 1996, leaving a young family behind. He had ridden many winners all over County Victoria and NSW but The Topaz was always a favourite.

The barn nearest the gate into the racecourse now occupied by Nathan Hobson once was the stables of the late Ducky Smith. Ducky was a legend in country racing. As a young man he had worked on Stations around Balranald NSW, but when he married and moved to Swan Hill where he took up training. Ducky trained with incredible success for over 4 decades and there were not many Country Cups that he didn’t win. His last win in the Swan Hill Cup was Favoured Song, ridden by Colin Browell. Duck’s most famous horse was Manaroa, Chris Burgess who rode for Ducky over many years won 13 of the 16 wins. Sadly for Chris, weight kept him out of the saddle and when Manaroa won the 1979 Toorak Handicap, Bobby Skelton took the ride that day.

All roads will lead to Swan Hill for the long weekend in June!

Hope to see you there.

Briga Fliedner.

The 2018 Swan Hill Cup Carnival takes place this year from Fri 8th - Sun 10th June.

For further information and tickets please visit the Swan Hill Race Club website here.

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