In news that will please many country racing fans, NSW clubs are now welcoming owners and patrons back on track, with Coonamble being the first club to host a crowd on Sunday for their Coonamble Cup meeting.
The Covid-19 state-wide lockdown that commenced in August meant clubs were racing without fans, with only essential personnel allowed on course.
This all changed on Thursday though, with the NSW Government announcing their ‘NSW roadmap to freedom’, which kicked off on Monday, October 11 following the state hitting the 70% vaccination rate milestone in the middle of last week.
Following the good news, Racing NSW were quick to make their own announcement on Friday, stating that race clubs could once again allow owners and patrons back on course from October 11, but only under strict protocols.
“As part of the new freedoms, racecourses will be permitted to welcome back owners and patrons that are fully vaccinated from 11 October 2021,” A Racing NSW statement said.
“Race clubs shall be responsible for ensuring that all patrons (other than Essential Personnel) are fully vaccinated prior to attending or entering the racecourse.
“Crowds are restricted to 1 person per 4 square metres and a maximum to 5000 patrons, who must adhere to mandatory mask wearing for indoor spaces and all other NSW Government Public Heath Order requirements.”
Now, clubs left, right and centre are preparing for crowds, and one busy day on the calendar looks to be October 30 that doubles at Golden Eagle Day and Derby Day.
“We will be racing with a crowd, and I would expect that we get somewhere around 1500 people,” said Coffs Harbour Racing Manager, Tim Saladine.
Dubbo will have around 2000 tickets available for purchase and General Manager Vince Gordon was pleased to announce that a crowd could attend.
“Patrons will be welcome back on Derby Day and tickets are available now. We will have a couple of thousand tickets and if we can sneak a few more in, based on the situation closer to our race day, we will,” Gordon said.
“We will be aiming to be as Covid-safe and Covid-compliant as possible.
Turf Club President, David Rosetta, said the welcome news would mean that his club and town could celebrate their own ‘freedoms’ in the best way possible.
“It’s great news for us and for the town,” Rosetta said.
“There is no sport at the moment, and I don’t know if there have been any festivals or major events that have gone ahead since we last raced (in February).
“Essentially, Derby Day will be our Freedom Day because our meeting will be the first big event that people can go to.”
In the meantime, there are other country clubs set to host crowds over the coming two weekends, with Murrumbidgee Turf Club preparing for 3500 racegoers on Saturday, October 16, with the Wagga club hosting their annual Aggies race day.
It is expected that many other country clubs will start to advertise ticket sales for upcoming meetings once receiving the okay from Racing NSW, and readers are encouraged to keep a close on eye club’s social media pages.