Stephen Sawyers, like other members of his Ipswich family, enjoyed international success in sports like hockey and wrestling.
Stephen Sawyers, like other members of his Ipswich family, enjoyed international success in sports like hockey and wrestling. David Nielsen

Racing important part of proud family traditions

THE Sawyers' family of Ipswich are well known for their varied sporting pursuits.

George and son Steve have represented Australia in masters hockey. David also reached state level in hockey.

Steve and David were former national wrestling champions, in contention for Commonwealth Games selection.

Steve's wife Michelle is a former international footballer and one of the region's best players in any era.

"We got heavily involved in sport and then we just followed it through,'' David said.

"It's been a family thing that we play sport and we're lucky that in most sports we played, we were not too bad at it.''

However, racing continued to nurture a strong bond between David, Ken and their dad George.

"It's good,'' David, 62, said, living next door to his father at Yamanto.

"When you're a kid, your dad teaches you everything and then when you get over 60, your dad is still teaching something.''

David enjoys helping all the jockeys, especially the regular Bundamba visitors like Michael Cahill and Robbie Fradd. He said Luke Dittman was one of the most polite jockeys.

"I've been down there helping the jockeys room for probably two years and before that I was on the gate,'' David said.

"I've never been to the Ipswich Cup going down watching the Cup. I've always been down there working.''


Ipswich Turf Club father and son George and David Sawyers. David is taking over as jockey room attendant from retiring dad George.
Father and son George and David Sawyers at the Ipswich Turf Club. Cordell Richardson

Despite the extra demands looking after jockeys and helping trainers access their racing colours, David said it was a positive experience.

"You have a big crowd and you see a lot of people when you're out there working in the yard. You see a lot of old faces that you haven't seen for many, many years.

"You say g'day over the fence and it's good.

"Between races you get pretty flat out in the jockeys' room with people coming to get their colours and they're in a bit of a hurry to get home or whatever.

"But there's not many negatives. It's a fun day and people are out to enjoy themselves.''

David said it was satisfying when the jockeys appreciate what you do.

As the father and son team prepare for next Saturday's Ipswich Cup Day, David conceded there will be mixed emotions.

"It will be sad in one way because it will be dad's last Cup and I'd say next year he'll probably come down to the jockeys' room and just see what's going on to keep an eye on us,'' David said.

That's the Sawyers' way.