Preeminent harness family celebrates at The Creek

It was a night of ‘candles and cakes’ at The Creek on Friday 20 January as the extended Dawson family celebrated two birthdays and paid tribute to the elder statesmen of an amazing harness racing dynasty in Queensland.

The feature event was the John and Beryl Legacy, honouring the 20-year anniversary of John’s passing and his wife Beryl who is now is her late 80s.

The majority of the starters in Race 4 were driven by Beryl’s grandkids, with Taleah McMullen (Stormtide) defying older brother Pete (Strong Response) to take out the inaugural John and Beryl Dawson Legacy Pace for Redcliffe trainer Donny Smith.

Beryl and winner Taleah McMullen

Winning connections with Donny Smith

The Dawson and McMullen families not only enjoyed a night of reminiscing, but there were birthday celebrations as well. One of Beryl’s 10 grandchildren, Trent enjoyed his 37th birthday surrounded by family, while great-granddaughter Alisha Veivers had just one candle to blow out.

Great-granddaughter Alisha Veivers

And the racing gods certainly smiled on this harness clan on the night, with six of the eight race winners driven by a member of the all-conquering family– Nathan Dawson notched a treble, Taleah had a double (including the Legacy Pace) and Dannielle Veivers (nee McMullen) was also successful on a night they celebrated her daughter’s birthday as well.

The family patriarch, John Dawson, passed away on Christmas Eve 2002. He worked on the railways for 42 years before getting hooked on harness when Des Weeks moved in next door to their Raceview property in 1963. John developed his horseman skills from there training the likes of Shoot Harbour, Welcome Command, and Robin Commander. John trained his first winner in 1971 and it was driven by his son Geoff. John and Geoff won the trainers/drivers premiership at the Ipswich track in 1976.

John and Beryl had three children who remained in the industry. Geoff married Gail (Morris family) and their children Melissa, Trent and Kelli also followed the harness path. Glenn married Wynetta (Knack family), with Mitchell and Nathan taking up the reins. Jennette married John McMullen Jnr and their kids Pete, Narissa, Dannielle and Taleah continued the trend.

It’s believed this extended family dynasty has produced 23 owners and 18 trainers who have racked up in excess of 40,000 starters. It’s also estimated that 18 current and former drivers have notched up an incredible 80,000 drives between.

All this started from a horse called Membership which won a race at Rocklea in 1971. From then onwards, the family was hooked. John and Beryl Dawson were always humble and caring and closely followed the careers of all the family members with pride.

As always, Beryl was amongst the ever-expanding tribe, casting an eagle eye over what was happening on and off the track!


Beryl, extended family and partners

Beryl and grandkids