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Named after a small town and a kid who came from it, Tooleybuc Kid will go around in the $100,000 Slickpix/TVN Silver Bowl Series Final (1600m) at Flemington tomorrow with some very familiar names cheering this three-year-old gelding to the line.

The race book may not totally give this away, but if Tooleybuc Kid’s ownership group was fully listed it would read as a “who’s who” of Australian sport.

Under the Vingt Cinq Club Syndicate, the membership reads of AFL greats such as Ron Barassi, Doug Wade and Bob Skilton, just to name a few.

Of other sports there’s Frank Sedgeman (tennis) and Ian Meckiss (cricket) with racing currently represented by Alf Matthews and 2013 Hall Of Fame inductee Geoff Lane.

That’s just the list of the living! Not to mention the late Lionel Rose, Ted Whitten, and this astonishing list goes on….

Club President and two-time Olympic representative in Water Polo, Leon Wiegard, describes this institution as like a “Sporting RSL”.

“It is really a luncheon club for sportspeople with a significant background; AFL players, olympians, etc”, Wiegard explained.

“In the old days when football was a part-time job and maybe when they played cricket as well, the competition between clubs and individuals wasn’t so intense so guys like Alan “Butch” Gale and Ron Barassi would have a drink with each other on a Friday night before they played against each other the next day.

“As there happened to be about 25 of them regularly there, that’s how the Vingt Cinq (which is French for 25) Club began.”

“Nowadays though, a lot of them say they kicked more goals or took more wickets than they really did.”

Tooleybuc Kid honours John Sharrock, a member not just of this special club but also a 1963 premiership player with Geelong.

After playing 94 games for the Cats he retired prematurely due to persistent knee injuries.

Such was his talent, Sharrock – who now lives in Albury – earned 16 votes in the 1966 Brownlow Medal count. He finished third on the tally, five short of the winner Ian Stewart from St Kilda.

“I missed three matches and they put me at full back for about five matches but that’s the way it goes”, said Sharrock who will be attending Flemington for tomorrow’s $100,000 race.

Growing up in the small north-west Victorian town of Tooleybuc, near Swan Hill, Sharrock was given the nickname “The Tooleybuc Kid” nearly five decades ago and it remains today.

“When John first arrived for training at Geelong, Bob Davis wasn’t the greatest with remembering names so he just called him the Tooleybuc Kid”, Wiegard recalled of the 1963 premiership coach and Cats legend.

“So it stuck!

“The Vingt Cinq Club has been racing horses together for 35 years and we wanted to name a really good horse for Gerry Ryan (member and owner of 2010 Melbourne Cup winner Americain).

“We thought we had a good one and named it Caravan Cinq after of his company Jayco.

“But it wasn’t much chop so we’ve wasted that name unfortunately.

“We’ve named this one after John’s contribution – the Tooleybuc Kid.”

Rated an $8 chance by TAB, Sharrock is open minded towards the gelding’s chances.

“He’s a nice horse and pretty promising”, Sharrock noted.

Tooleybuc Kid’s last start delivered a second placing on 24 June behind Kings Palace, who is also engaged in this race.

“I went to Echuca last week and noticed that with the rail out five metres it was hard to make ground.

“He’s only had four runs so that’s where I’m unsure, but I think the mile to 2000-metres is his go.”

One positive is that Tooleybuc Kid meets Kings Palace one kilogram better at the weights compared to their last meeting.

While football was his talent, Sharrock maintains a passion for racing having been involved in, as his wife has counted, 52 horses.

His best result came with a horse called Caratime trained by Pat Courtney.

“He won the Greenline Handicap at Flemington and paid for one of my houses”, said a pleased Sharrock.

“Back in those days you could have a good win and be able to buy a house for about $40,000.

“I went to the bank on the previous Tuesday and they said I’d need to put down $10,000 as a deposit.

“At the Saturday races I got the Quaddie ten times, it paid $1,190 plus whatever I won on backing Caratime at 16-1. I ended up with about $16,000 so I went back to the bank on Monday and paid for my house!”

While John Sharrock and the rest of the Vingt Cinq crew might have to pool their funds for a far bigger bet to get that sort of return tomorrow, should Tooleybuc Kid one day live up to their talents there may be some very big things to come.

Courtesy of Danny Matthews

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