Racing community raises $165,000 for paraplegic jockeys

A fundraising night was held at Clifford Park next Saturday for injured trackwork riders Ben Saunders (left) and Wade Clasohm.
A fundraising night was held at Clifford Park next Saturday for injured trackwork riders Ben Saunders (left) and Wade Clasohm. File

THE region's racing community rallied for two Toowoomba jockeys left paraplegic and facing a long road to recovery.

More than $165,000 was raised for Wade Clasohm and Ben Saunders, and their families, at a benefit hosted by the Toowoomba Turf Club at the weekend.

All proceeds from the Saturday night benefit, which TTC chief executive Blair Odgers said "exceeded all expectations", will now be divided evenly between the two men and close mates who are continuing their recovery in hospital "in great spirits".

"Racing is a tight-knit community with a highly competitive bunch of people who ultimately live each week competing against each other," Mr Odgers said.

"So when you have an unfortunate accident like this, the support really comes in."

A Captain Sonador colt donated by Greg Wagner sold in an online auction for more than $12,000, which emerged as the single largest lot item sold on the night.

Former Wallaby Peter Fitzsimmons bought a rare signed print of the 1939 Wallabies team which had been due to play in England when the First World War broke out.

Mr Odgers said Mr Fitzsimmons bought the print for $3000 via phone from Sydney, and a pair of Michelle Payne-signed breeches went for $1200.

"There's a deep connection and mateship in the industry which recognises what these guys have put in and an understanding of what they are going through," Mr Odgers said.

Mr Saunders and Mr Clasohm are continuing their rehabilitation together in Brisbane and were represented at the dinner by their families, who spoke of their recovery and mood.

"They're as good as anybody can be in times like this," Mr Odgers said.

"They have come to terms with the situation they're in and are really looking to the future."

TTC covered all meals, meaning the $75 ticket price went into the fund, as well as $26,000 in  donations.

Topics:  fundraiser toowoomba

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