Despite all the odds, Narromine races stood out like a shining jewel in Australian racing on Thursday - and came out a winner!
As all other races in Australia were cancelled, most due to a coronavirus scare over a Victorian jockey (he has been cleared), Narromine races went ahead under strict biosecurity protocols.
Not only was that a victory in this current virus climate, but also the fact it rained cats and dogs at the course only 12 hours earlier - up to 80mm in several parts of the track and 110mm just a stone's throw away.
The track is renowned for drying out, and lived up to that reputation admirably, so it all came together for the Narromine Turf Club on the day, said raceday secretary Sarah Masonwells, who said it was "surreal" being at the first Narromine race meeting with no public.
The new virus rules mean that jockeys have to stay apart, everyone has to keep their distance, and no jockey can pass on an owner's silks to another jockey if they have more than one runner at the meeting.
Ms Masonwells said the NSW racing stewards were high on protocols and even took the jockeys temperatures when they arrived. "We couldn't have held the meeting without the stewards input," she said.
The big bonus for holding the meeting was the club saw betting turnover on the NSW TAB skyrocket by 32 per cent on the day, and account betting up by an amazing 180 per cent, compared to the same meeting last year, as it was the only horse race meeting to bet on in Australia.
Clubs all get a small percentage of TAB turnover, so for Narromine it was like having two meetings on one day.
And big punters didn't hold back. One had a bet of nearly $30,000 with the NSW TAB on the last favourite Jailbreak - and it won!
The NSW TAB said overall turnover from the same meeting last year was up 32pc.
"If looking purely at account only bets (i.e no retail given there was no at track betting or general retail betting) - account only turnover was up 180pc," a spokesperson said.
Only Australian and New Zealand residents can bet with the NSW TAB, so it was possible some were betting on sporting bet agencies from as far away as Hong Kong on the meeting.
Here is a list of the largest bets on the day: $29,500 @ $1.55 on Jailbreak (Race 8) (winner); $3,000 @ $5.50 on Toulon Brook (Race 4) (win); $1,000 @ $13 on Grace Bay (Race 2); $400 @ $26 on Time Stalker (Race 6) (it won) and $300 @ $31 on Demonize (Race 5) (win).
So quite a few had a good day even if they weren't there !
With the new racing rules for coronavirus, NSW jockeys have had to select if they will ride in the north, south or metropolitan zones. At this stage NSW racing is proceeding under strict coronavirus rules.