Christmas and cup racing at Tuncurry Forster Jockey Club is a goer!
The Grinch (alias an unexpected problem with the track) has been silenced and it’s all systems go for the annual Christmas Party race meeting on Monday, December 6.
Long-serving club president and life member Garry McQuillan and his committee have left no stone unturned to ensure there isn’t a repetition of their last meeting on September 10 when it had to be called off after only four races were run.
The spacious track and normal first-class racing surface had been rated a “Good 4” prior to raceday and on inspection by stewards prior to racing beginning, but a small section of the track – at such a vital stage from the 50m until just after the winning post – had exhibited excessive penetration of the surface by horses compared with the remainder of the circuit.
Following an inspection by stewards, jockeys and club officials, the remaining four races did not proceed.
“I put my hand up straight away and said racing could not continue that day,” McQuillan said.
“Safety is always paramount.”
Tuncurry Forster immediately got on the front foot by publishing on its website an open apology to all stakeholders, then set about rectifying the problem.
“We thought it might have been a broken pipe or perhaps even a problem with our new watering system and brought in a sonar machine, which dispelled both those theories,” McQuillan explained.
“Racing NSW’s Dave Hodgson was a great help, and we eventually discovered that coffee rock was the problem, meaning water wasn’t draining through in that area unlike the rest of the track.
“We drilled about 1000 holes and filled them with sand, and the track has come back perfectly.
“Six horses galloped last Thursday, and riders along with our local steward Jack Penfold gave us the thumbs up to resume racing.
“Everyone at the club is really looking forward to this meeting leading up to Christmas, with bookings again guaranteeing it will be a very popular day as with all our meetings.”
Races such as the 2100m Bellevue Hotel Tuncurry-Forster XXXX Gold Cup, 1200m Evermore Pearl (sponsored by Broken Bay Pearls) Benchmark 66 Handicap, and 1600m Golden Mile, which were to have been run at the last meeting, have been programmed for the December 6 TAB meeting.
The Gold Cup carries a $34,000 purse, and the Evermore Pearl and Golden Mile $24,000 each.
Introduced in 2018, the Evermore Pearl carries valuable trophies of a difference – donated by West Australian-based Broken Bay Pearls – for the successful owner, trainer and jockey.
One of country racing’s go-ahead clubs, standing still isn’t in Tuncurry Forster’s vocabulary.
McQuillan took over in 2005 when the club was teetering on the edge of extinction after a number of dramas.
Racing NSW called on him to step in, and he, along with current vice-president Adrian Wood and Ade Richards, are the sole survivors from that original committee.
What the club has achieved in the ensuing years has been absolutely remarkable, and it has especially continued to make giant strides since conducting its inaugural TAB meeting on Saturday, August 29, 2015.
Tuncurry’s excellent promotion of their race meetings, coupled with their outstanding hospitality, continues to attract crowds from both the district and other areas; crowds which many other country and provincial clubs would be delighted to welcome.
The club has now completed an excellent 20×12 shade area for the public, and has 26 gazebos on top of the hill (excellent viewing area) available for hire at all meetings (complete with 10 chairs and table for $200 each).
Seven races have been programmed for December 6, with minimum prizemoney of $24,000 and total stakes of $178,000.