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Colours fly again

Saturday, 14th March, 2015

Robert Toms with one of the shirts he had made in honour of his father, John. The photograph of John was taken at Robert’s wedding. PICTURE: Gavin Schmidt Robert Toms with one of the shirts he had made in honour of his father, John. The photograph of John was taken at Robert’s wedding. PICTURE: Gavin Schmidt

By Craig Brealey

 At every St Pat’s, lovers of horse racing in Broken Hill have occasion to remember the late John Toms, the man who started it all 50 years ago.

Today as everyone celebrates the anniversary meeting they will have more than his memory - his familiar, smiling face will be almost everywhere.

About 50 members of the horse trainer’s family have come to town from all over Australia for the races and each will be wearing a polo shirt in his racing colours with a photograph of him printed on the back.

Mr Toms’ son, Robert, said it was all the idea of his cousins who had wanted to honour their favourite uncle on this special day.

“We have a stack of cousins, mostly from Adelaide but some from as far away as Perth, as well as my son and daughter from Sydney, coming up for the day,” Robert said.

“My cousins came up with idea of shirts being made in Dad’s racing colours of cerise and black stripes.”

Robert has always been involved with St Pat’s and was a member of the committee before moving to Melbourne with his wife Jo. Five years ago they shifted to Mildura and opened a shop called “Totally Workwear”.

Ever since, the Toms’ have decorated their front window with a St Pat’s display to publicise the nation’s greatest outback race meeting.

“You can’t get polo shirts in stripes,” Robert said, “but with our capability at the shop we were able to get plain black with cerise writing.”

The photo was printed on the back and Robert’s cousins then made silk sashes in the same colours with the legend “Great idea, John Toms”.

For the last four years, Robert has been helping his good mate and punting pal, Rod Williams, run the Punters Club at the races.

“I heard he’d been letting the punters down so I had to come back and straighten things out,” he said.

Today you will find Robert at the John Toms Sports Bar.

“Come and see me and I’ll give you a free tip,” he said.

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