In what will seem a rarity after recent months, Coonabarabran Jockey Club are preparing to host a limited crowd at their Cup meeting on October 24, with the club set to be one of the first racetracks in the state to allow patrons back on course following the second state wide Covid-19 lockdown.
“How good is it to finally welcome back people and we cannot wait to get back to racing with a crowd,” said Coonabarabran Jockey Club Publicity Officer, Sarah Baglee.
Ticket sales for the October 24 meeting only opened to the public on Monday, and already, over half of the 1000 tickets made available have been snapped up by eager racing fans.
“We offered 1000 tickets up for sale with 123 Tix this morning (Monday), as we cannot have tickets at the gate, and by 3pm, we only had 485 tickets left,” Baglee said.
“It just shows that people want to get back on track and enjoy the races.”
Coonabarabran’s feature meeting highlights some of the best that country racing has to offer, with the eight-race Showcase program offering trainers and owners $320,000 in prizemoney, which is headlined by the $75,000 Coonabarabran Cup over 1600m.
In a big day for the club, there is also the $40,000 Baradine cup, $35,000 Showcase Sprint and the $50,000 Country Magic Class Two Plate, making for a great day’s racing.
“We can’t wait. Our track is looking absolutely schmick,” Baglee said.
“We have two good gentlemen in Harold and Kerry, who wander around, and look after the track. They have done a great job again and they love it because they want to make the track the best it can be for race days.”
While racing will take centre stage, Baglee believed the local community was just happy to have an event to look forward too.
“You don’t have to go to the races to bet or even watch the races,” Baglee laughed.
“It’s a chance to go to the races, catch up with friends, get dressed up and have a good laugh.
“I have spoken to so many people that have said they are looking forward to this meeting, and these people aren’t necessarily racing people, but they are people who are desperate to get out.
“It’s been so hard for people and this day is about catching up with friends and having fun.”
In true Coonabarabran Jockey Club style, the committee will be working hard to give back to the town where possible, involving community groups with their race day.
“We involve community groups, who help out with the day, and what they make, they keep,” Baglee said.
“We have missed being able to do that for those people and community groups, which left us feeling down on the whole situation as we couldn’t help them, but being back racing and with a crowd, we were so eager to help those groups.
“Our race meeting is about the community. It’s great turnover through the bar and turnstiles for us, but this meeting is all about the community and giving back.”
In another rarity, fashions on the field will return, with the club hopeful of another good turnout.
“It will be a bit different. We won’t be having children’s sections, which is a bit sad, but we will have the 16 to 30 years filly and colt, then we have lady and gent, and with the ladies, there will be a local and visiting winner,” Baglee said.
“Then we have the silver section, and the silver section is one section I love because it gives women over 60, who go to such lengths to look so terrific, a chance to win.
“The silver section is popular with the young ones because they get there and cheer for their favourites and it really makes their day.”
It isn’t just a one-day event in Coonabarabran either, with the town and club celebrating the entire weekend.
“We have events happening on Saturday, and on Sunday there is the races, so it gives people a chance to come to Coona, check out how lovely our town is and celebrate the weekend,” Baglee said.
“On Saturday, there is the markets and then we will have a welcome BBQ at the Bowling Club on Saturday afternoon, then they will have the Yabbie races on the green followed by our Calcutta, which will also be on the green at 6pm.
“The Bowling Club are working in with us, and they are our major sponsor, and they want it to be a successful weekend too and we are so thankful to them for doing all of that.
“It’s a really good weekend and it brings a lot of money into town. It is really nice for our community and all of the shopkeepers.”
People wanting to attend the races should get tickets soon before they are sold out, with Baglee offering one final message to anyone thinking of coming along to the races.
“Our catch phrase is that ‘we are the friendliest race club in the bush’ and we really mean that,” Baglee said.
“So, get frocked up, feel sensational and have a good day and that’s all that matters.”