30 November 2023

Horse race used to distribute $56,000 across 12 charities in Canberra first

| Ryan Bourke
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A sign reading "Canberra Community Chest" is framed by a hedge.

Twelve charities competed for a share of the $56,000 prize pool at this year’s Community Chest. Photo: Ben Appleton | Photox – Canberra Photography Services.

In a Canberra first, more than $50,000 in funds has been distributed across 12 local charities thanks to a horse race at Thoroughbred Park.

Each of the charities involved were assigned a horse in the 1400 m Canberra Community Chest quality open handicap that jumped at 6:37 pm on Saturday.

While the race was close, Rise Above – a capital region cancer relief charity – took out first place.

The victory of Super Helpful secured $25,500 for the charity, with the winnings set to fund programs that support cancer patients and their families across the capital region.

Remarkably, Rise Above was the only charity to qualify for the race through a public vote. The other 11 charities were selected by a panel of three community leaders.

In yet another surprise for participating organisations, Super Helpful’s trainers Barbara Joseph, Paul and Matt Jones donated five per cent of their winnings to the community chest, bringing the total prize pool to $56,000.

READ MORE Who will win? Charities named in the race for funds on community day at Thoroughbred Park

Emotions ran high after the race, with Good Omen Goodeze’s executive officer Mary Liondi-Barlow admitting she “had goosebumps” when her horse Peace Officer secured a third place prize of $5500.

“That was my first race day and to be so close when they came thundering by was such a thrill, they were going so fast.”

Asked how the prize would help her organisation, Mary said it was one of the biggest contributions the charity had received all year.

“It’s going to enable our great members to join our workshops, pick up new skills, and have everything they need to give back and make a difference in the community.”

No organisation left the race empty handed. Winnings ranged from $25,500 for first place to $1500 for the final six charities to finish.

While the withdrawal of Love Tap and Louie’s Legacy left riding with the disabled charity Pegasus without a horse in the race, it received $1000 from the community chest and automatic selection as one of the partners in next year’s race.

READ MORE Put your choice forward for last spot in Canberra Community Chest

While action on the track proved the main attraction, a wide range of activities offered racegoers everything from live music to painting lessons for the little ones.

With about 1800 punters in attendance, Thoroughbred Park marketing and sponsorship manager Robbie Ringland said the event was a resounding success.

“Everything ran smoothly, there was a little bit of rain but the sun came back out shortly after so there was no significant disruption to the races or patrons.”

Organisers also overcame the challenge of the Spilt Milk music festival, which ran simultaneously across the road.

Despite road closures and congestion, Robbie said his team “worked hard with [Spilt Milk] organisers to ensure things ran as smoothly as possible”.

Canberra Racing Club CEO Darren Pearce said the club was “delighted to support these meaningful groups through the $56,000 community chest”.

“The chest was created for this very purpose, to unite community heroes with equine heroes.”


1st place: Rise Above – $25,500

2nd place: Win The Day – $8000

3rd place: Good Omen Goodeze – $5500

4th place: Lifeline Canberra – $3500

5th place: The Daniela Dwyer Foundation – $2500

6th place: Belconnen Magpies F.C. – $2000

7th place: The Canberra Hospital Foundation – $1500

8th place: Roundabout Canberra – $1500

9th place: Western District Rugby Union Football Club – $1500

10th place: The ACT Volunteer Brigades Association – $1500

11th place: The Ricky Stuart Foundation – $1500

12th place: Riding for the Disabled of the ACT Incorporated (Pegasus) – $1o00 (plus automatic selection in next year’s race)

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