Starters hop to it in preparation for Cup

Australia Day event manager Don Knopke with one of the entrants in a recent Coolum Cup. Photo: Mike Garry
Australia Day event manager Don Knopke with one of the entrants in a recent Coolum Cup. Photo: Mike Garry

Though it is not an official Australia Day function, Bob, Vivien, Debbie and Fiona will all be at Coolum’s celebration of our national day on Monday.

Or, to be more precise, Bob the Bruiser, Vivacious Vivien, Desperate Debbie and Fearless Fiona will be competing in the Sunshine Coast’s richest toad race, the Coolum Cup.

The race, with toads named after politicians and prominent local identities, has been a highlight of Coolum’s Australia Day celebrations since the early 1990s.

Every year chief toad catcher Don Knopke comes up with a list of topical names and a form guide that alludes to the attributes of the toads’ namesakes.

Bob the Bruiser is a “big Noosa toad who led all the way to win the inaugural Sunshine Cup last March. Colours: Black .”

Fearless Fiona’s form guide says: “Smart filly, easily one of the Sunshine Coast’s best performers over the last 10 years. However, her current stable management team has become complacent in recent months. Needs more input from current trainer who must implement new, exciting techniques. Colours: royal blue.”

Noosa MP Glen Elmes also gets a start as 80-1 outsider Elmer Fudd: “Has failed to impress since moving to a larger stable early last year. Current trainer’s tactics of knocking and bashing are not popular with the local punters. Colours: silver.”

Mr Knopke said the politicians took the ribbing in good fun.

“Most of the complaints come from my wife because she thinks I might offend people,” he said.

Mayor Bob Abbot described having a toad namesake as a badge of honour.

“Recognition is a wonderful thing,” he said.

“That fact that I’ll be represented on the day without being there is a great opportunity for me.

“Australia Day is going to be a big day and it will be all over the region so I’m glad to see there’s a Bob of some kind at Coolum.”

Maroochydore MP Fiona Simpson said toad racing was a “true Aussie tradition”.

“I haven’t had a chance to view the toad they’ve chosen to put under my name,” she said.

“I hope I don’t have to kiss it in order to kick it across the finishing line.”

“I’ll be there cheering it on whatever the outcome.”

The race starts at 3.20pm on Australia Day in Coolum’s Tickle Park.

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