Ballarat Turf Club honours long-time administrator Eric Tonks

LONG-time racing administrator Eric Tonks will be recognised on Ballarat Cup Day with a race named in his honour.

The $70,000 open sprint will be permanently known as the Tonks Plate.

Ballarat Turf Club chief executive officer Lachlan McKenzie said it was a fitting tribute to Tonks, who died this year.

McKenzie said the 1200m event was the richest open age sprint on the BTC calendar and deserved a higher status.

He said giving the feature event an ongoing title was long overdue.

Traditionally, only the Ballarat Cup has carried more stakemoney.

The sprint is richer than the Golden Nugget (1600m), which in prestige is the BTC’s highest profile event outside Cup Day.

Tonks died in late August at the age of 74.

He spent 37 years as Ballarat Turf Club secretary and chief executive officer before retiring at the end of 1999.

He was also a long-serving secretary of the Burrumbeet Park and Windermere Racing Club.

The BTC marked his retirement by naming a race in his honour at the time, but it was not retained as an ongoing feature.

The club’s announcement to honour Tonks comes in the same week the Ballarat racing fraternity has farewelled another legendary figure in Kevin Garland.

The patriarch of a well known Ballarat racing family, the retired trainer died at the age of 84.

The BTC recognised Garland at its awards night in September, presenting him with the “Outstanding Contribution to Racing in Ballarat Award”. Garland had various roles in the racing industry.

He ran totalisator agencies in Maryborough and Ballarat, raced and trained horses and spent more than a decade as Ballarat Trainers’ Association secretary.

Garland and wife Connie ran a TAB agency on the corner of Sturt and Ascot streets in Ballarat for more than 20 years before retiring in the mid-1990s.

Originally from Gormandale in Gippsland where he was a butcher, Garland moved to Maryborough and it was there he caught the racing bug.

He took out an owner-trainer’s licence and had his first win with True Glimpse at Newstead in the early 1960s.

Some of his great moments came on Ballarat Cup Day – training four Cup Day Hurdle winners in the space of six seasons.

Gay Ben began the sequence in 1980 and 1982, and he continued with Vatican Edition in 1983 and See Me Rock in 1985.

Ballarat Cup Day

Sunday, November 25

$200,000 listed Ballarat Cup, 2200m

$200,000 Magic Millions Clockwise 2yo Classic, 1000m 

$70,000 Tonks Plate, 1200m 

$30,000 BM78 handicap, 1600m

$25,000 BM72 handicap, 2200m 

$20,000 0-68 handicap,1400m

$20,000 0-68 handicap for fillies and mares, 1200m

$20,000 0-62 handicap, 1200m 

$20,000 maiden, 1100m 

$20,000 maiden, 1400m