Narrandera racing will feature one of the biggest prize purses outside of the major regional tracks in 2021 with three TAB meetings offering $365,000.
Representing the biggest prizemoney offered in the history of the club, the three meetings comprising 20 races will be open to the public for the first time in a year.
The LW Peacock Memorial Meeting on Saturday, June 19, will offer $72,000, the Narrandera Cup on Sunday, July 18 with $202,000 and the TC Lee Memorial Meeting on Saturday, August 14 with $90,000.
Narrandera Race Club race day manager Michael Bailey said a record would be set on Cup Day with $202,000 in prize money, including $34,000 for the Cup, up from $32,000 last year.
“Racing NSW has upped the ante with an injection of funding into country racing from July 1 and we are on the beneficial end of that,” Mr Bailey said.
But he was unsure if Narrandera would receive its new starting barriers from the Murrumbidgee Turf Club in time for the season opener.
“Our intent is to have the public at our race meetings this year. We have been in discussion with Racing NSW and chief stewards how we can provide for the jockey’s (change room),” Mr Bailey said.
“More than likely we will have a marquee outside the secretary’s office and between the betting ring area for either the male or female jockeys.
“The marquee will be heated as we will be racing in winter time.
“We are working on having crowds and that will come back to the social distancing depending on the COVID rules at the time.
“The function centre and bar will be open, plus we will have bookmakers on course – we want to get the crowd back to the races and so does the rest of NSW.
“Our planning is based around getting back to near normal as we possibly can.”
The Cup Day will be an eight-race program and the additional prizemoney is expected to draw a quality field of horses.
“It is pretty special to have the prizemoney up there – the Corowa Cup was run recently with prizemoney of $35,000,” Mr Bailey said.
“We are up on that tier behind Wagga Wagga, Albury and Gundagai with their big carnivals.
“I’ve been talking to a number of trainers who are keen to have horses come here in the winter time as our (sand) track is different to anywhere.”
Mr Bailey confirmed there would be Fashions on the Field on Cup day and at the family fun day of the TC Lee Memorial Meeting with prizes for junior race goers.
“Getting crowds back to the races is so important – Leeton Jockey Club had a good turnout recently with people looking for things to do,” he said.
“We will do our best to put on a program to encourage people to come.
“The new watering system implemented last spring in the enclosure area has really improved the lawns. These have all been top dressed and regularly watered.
“With the relaxation of the COVID rules we will be encouraging more functions back into the function centre, such as weddings or birthday parties.”
Mr Bailey appealed for volunteers interested in helping the club to come forward.
“All the major positions in the club are filled with experienced people and we are looking for new blood to get a feel for what it’s like to be around the race club, and be part of the local community.
“It is quite different on the inside to what the general public sees.
“The volunteers don’t have to come to meetings all the time – it’s more about having people around for support.
“We are hoping to get our local businesses on board and get some money turning around within the community at Narrandera, Leeton, Carrathool, Ardlethan and Lockhart.”
This article appeared in the Narrandera Argus, 11 March 2021.