Ardlethan picnic racing is in Jack Stewart’s blood

The Ardlethan Picnic Racing Club have a new President, with Jack Stewart taking over the top job ahead of their March 19 race day.

Ardlethan Picnic Racing Club has ushered in the new generation that is set to lead the historic race club into the future. 

Jack Stewart, who is the grandson of club patriarch and co-founder John ‘Jack’ Stewart, has taken on the top job and he admitted it was a role he was always destined to take on. 

“My grandfather (John ‘Jack’ Stewart) was one of the founding members,” Stewart said.  

“It’s an odd occurrence; both of us were written down as John and we are called Jack.

“I knew that it was a role that I would eventually take on and I knew it was going to come up at some stage and I’m pretty happy with the challenge and excited to see how we can improve it and keep it going.”

The 31-year-old didn’t believe there was any added pressure being related to founding committee members, and he said he would do his part to help the club continue to grow. 

“The mere fact my grandfather was part of the start of it is pretty special,” Stewart said. 

“There isn’t any pressure or anything but there is an obligation as president to try and keep it going as good as it is, and try and improve on it where possible and that’s all I’m trying to do.”

Ardlethan have been hosting meetings since 1960, and with the race day run on a farm and hosted as a BYO event, the meeting embraces the charm and allure of picnic race meetings of yesteryear. 

“It is one of the only traditional picnic meetings that is BYO, and it is run on a farm and there is so much history attached to the meeting,” Stewart said. 

“There are certainly a few challenges, being that the paddock is run as a farm as well.

“At times it has been a big job, and quite often the track has stock on it, and they are taken out in the period just before and after the races, but we deal with it and move on.”

Part of what makes hosting the meeting a challenge for the committee is what adds to the theatre of the day, with Ardlethan truly one of the more unique meetings in Australia and the world.

“What makes it really great at Ardlethan is that is it such a beautiful setting and the track is right next to the creek; there is nothing like it,” Stewart said. 

“You don’t get much better bush tracks in terms of setting and people love getting there.”

Stewart said hosting the meeting on a farm did require a good relationship with the landowners. 

“We have to keep the owners happy, and they have been terrific and crucial members of the committee,” Stewart said.  

“Both the current owners and family that lease the block have been more than accommodating.”

The Ardlethan meeting is definitely one of the more popular social race days in the Riverina, attracting many families and friends from the region and from afar, and Stewart said their club had an important job in delivering a race day that suited families and racing fans.

“It’s an incredibly important day, with the race day being such a family orientated meeting,” Stewart said. 

“We are drawing good crowds, and a lot of picnic meetings going farther east are a grazier’s club, but Ardlethan gets a good mix of people, and everyone, especially the locals pitch in.

“We get a lot of town folk on the committee, and the meeting is really important to everyone.”

In 2022, the Ardlethan meeting will offer more prizemoney than ever, with $35,000 up for grabs, including $9000 in the Ardlethan Picnic Cup.

“It’s great we can offer the extra prizemoney,” Stewart said. 

“The mere fact we can offer that extra prizemoney is going to attract more trainers, jockeys and horses and it is going to make it a better meeting across the board.”

Readers wanting to know more about the Ardlethan meeting can click here for more information