Time to smell the roses with crowds back on track

Country races open to crowds again but some play it safe

Horses
Fashions in the field entrants at last year's Coonabarabran Cup. Photo by Janian McMillan.

Fashions in the field entrants at last year's Coonabarabran Cup. Photo by Janian McMillan.

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Spring racing ready to greet crowds again

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There's a spring in the step of country racegoers with the announcement crowds will be welcomed back to the track.

But for many clubs it will be a case of hold your horses.

The first major country racing meeting with crowds will be for the Coonabarabran Cup on October 24. Last year's fashion winners can be seen here - so the Coona jockey club has a great tradition of beating the COVID-19 blues.

Punters will have to buy tickets before they attend the meeting.

Meantime, some clubs have found the new health restrictions too much to bear, and costly, having to find extra security.

With racing particpants and the public having to be roped off, some basic issues have ruled out bringing back the public at some race meetings just yet. For instance, a trainer would not be allowed to use the public toilets and then return to the enclosure area. It would be the same for The Land's photographer Janian McMillan. She couldn't take photos of the race winners in the mounting yard and then go into the public area to take photos and return later to the enclosure.

Some clubs with bigger facilities may be able to get around the health rules, but for many the cost and logistics is far too hard. The Adaminaby Jockey Club had to announce this week its yearly meeting will not go ahead in November due to the issue of health restrictions.

On Monday, the NSW Government said crowds of up to 5,000 people can return to regional racecourses and tracks.

Racing Minister Kevin Anderson said racing in NSW has led the way when it comes to operating through COVID-19 and now fans of all three codes can once again make their way trackside for live entertainment.

"The three racing codes should be commended for the way they operated during the COVID pandemic and it is fantastic to see crowds now returning to the track," Mr Anderson said.

Also read: Dubbo pastor smoothes the ups and downs with racing folk

"As NSW races towards our vaccination targets and restrictions ease, the NSW Government is focused on supporting industries which provide valuable jobs and economic stimulus.

"Racing is the backbone of many regional communities and supported crucial jobs right throughout the pandemic. For many towns, the annual race day is so much more than just a punt with mates, it's a day out for the family and a chance to see old friends.

"Race meets also bring very welcome economic stimulus to town and I know many communities are looking forward to welcoming tourist dollars in their tills as soon as it is safe to do so."

Mr Anderson said the NSW Government has provided record funding to the thoroughbred, greyhound and harness racing industries to make them even stronger as they recover from COVID-19.

"The NSW Government invested record amounts of funding to support the racing industry over the past 12 months, including $67 million to upgrade regional racetracks. We fixed the funding model for GWIC, freeing up tens of millions of dollars for the greyhound industry to use on capital investment. and invested $4.2 million for the construction of a new harness racing training centre in Bathurst and assistance to rehome former harness racing horses," Mr Anderson said.

"The racing industry provides significant stimulus to regional communities, creating tens of thousands of jobs and injecting billions of dollars into to the state's economy. This support from the NSW Government will only mean those numbers increase."

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