Mark Clairmont |

GRAVENHURST — Forget Georgian Downs or Woodbine this Saturday, Sept. 14.

Head down to the Gravenhurst Centennial Centre’s Terry Fox Auditorium for some “good, hearty, clean fun, for nine worthwhile causes.”

“Come join us. Bring your family and friends and do something worthwhile. Have some great entertainment. Cause we’ll all have some laughs together, for sure.”

You can bet on it, says Nick “Sporty” Jones, the Bermudian bon vivant who is flying in Friday from his island home (after dodging Dorian), to host the Gravenhurst Rotary Club’s charity “Race Night.”

Nine vintage video races — including a high stakes auction race for nine highest bidders “horse owners,” who will go to the wire for a week’s stay at a holiday villa in the Dominican Republic at Jones’s vacation home. It includes a maid and chef and is worth $3,500, says Jones (see description below).

Each race will support one of Rotary’s fundraising causes: Rotary Youth Leadership; Gravenhurst Women’s Centre; Rotary Wheels for Learning; Gull Lake Rotary Park Accessible Swing Set; Gravenhurst Against Poverty; Rotary Bursary Education Endowment Fund; Hospice Muskoka “Andy’s House;” and two races for Polio Plus, Rotary International’s “Polio Eradication Program.”

The $25 entry cost includes some tasty hors d’oeuvres and there is a cash bar.

The event starts at 6 p.m. and after some socializing and a couple of drinks the races will get underway about 6:45 p.m.

All bets are $5. Place as many bets as you wish on as many horses as you wish.

The payout is about 50 per cent split between the cause and the winning horse tickets.

There are 8 horses per race and bets are $5 but you can bet on multiple horses.

Race 4 includes an auction for a weekend stay at Villas Resort on Lake Muskoka including a round of Golf and a dinner out in Bracebridge. Race 7 includes an auction for a week’s stay at a beautiful home with a pool in the Dominican and it comes with a maid and a chef.

Rotarians Pat Bongers, of Cedar Coast Home, and Eric Daly are co-sponsors of the event.

They, too, say it will be a fun evening.

It promises to be a great night out. And it will benefit some fabulous causes. We would like to pre-sell the tickets so that we know how much food to prepare. Please buy your tickets from me or other Gravenhurst Rotarian or at the Scotiabank in Gravenhurst or Bracebridge.

Jones is bringing along, not only his track announcer’s knowledge and entertaining British wit, but dozens of DVDs with all kinds of historic races from such far-flung race tracks as “Hong Kong, New Zealand, America, Gibraltar, Malta and Ireland,” he says.

Thoroughbred and steeple chase races.

All secure.

So, “there’s not a chance in hell” anyone will know the result, he says.

That’s from the horse’s mouth.

Jones, 57, knows what he’s talking about.

The native Bermudian is an all-round sportsman, whose British family roots date back generations as major players in the equine field, with his cousins still in the business.

At 11 Jones he remembers being at the Royal Ascot and getting a nod and a wave from the Queen before race time.

He comes by his “Sporty” nickname naturally, having played many sports since a kid, from club football, rugby, racing and yachting, to the highest levels playing nationally for Bermuda and as an Olympian in Atlanta in sailing.

But its the fascinating sport of kings and queens that has him in Canada this coming weekend.

And he promises as good a time at the Terry Fox as at a track.

Nick ‘Sporty’ Jones is an avid Bermudian bon vivant who is bringing his bag of secret race DVDs from around the world to run them for fun and charity Sept. 14 in Gravenhurst. Post time is 6 p.m. for pre-race festivities. The avid Olympic yachtsman is also offering a free island vacation at his Dominican Republic home as a special race auction prize.
Seven Rotary charities will be the winners Saturday night after the fun races.

Email Mark Clairmont at


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Isn’t it nice to be spoiled once in a while?

I think so, says Nick “Sporty” Jones, host of the Rotary Race Night.

He is offering his Dominican Republic island vacation villa as a special race prize.

He says this unique Villa provides the atmosphere to be pampered. Forget musty hotel rooms with no space. Go for this modern, luxurious villa with all the bells andwhistles. Love the decadence of having your own private pool set in a tropical oasis of coconut palms and flowering hedges.

Forget bland resort food and line ups. You have your own modern kitchen with granite counters, solid wood cabinets and stainless appliances. Your own toaster, coffee maker, pots/pans and clean dishes. Don’t want to cook? Order a chef or delivery right to your front door. I can arrange it all!!

Your villa has a clean queen or king size bed and crisp white linens. Laze in on a sunny tropical morning; the air conditioning will keep you cool. Order a massage, right in your own villa.

After a day at the pool, beach, spa, or on an excursion or tour, you don’t have to squeeze back into a hotel room. You have an entire villa where you can spread out – individual bedrooms, comfortable living room with large tv and best of all, a furnished covered terrace for conversations, games, and relaxation. Sip a glass of wine by the light of the moon and pool. Watch the sunset. BBQ. Listen to music.

It’s all yours, Jones says.