Golden opportunity for Balranald

The Balranald Race Club will race again on March 18, with the club graciously sharing the day with the Golden Slipper. Photo: Di Metcalfe Photography.

While punters all around Australia will tune in for the running of the 2023 Golden Slipper on March 18, racegoers in the Southern Districts will have another time-honoured race on their mind, with the running of the 2023 Balranald Cup set to take centre stage.  

The Balranald Racing Club moved their cup race date from February to March last year to coincide with one of NSW’s biggest race meetings, but they couldn’t hold the meeting after it was cancelled by Racing NSW stewards following an inspection of the track. 

Balranald Racing Club hit back in October of last year, hosting a bumper Spring Cup meeting on Cox Plate day, and club representative Sarah Old said her committee was ‘ready and rolling’ ahead of their always-popular cup day program. 

“It should be a big day, and hopefully the weather is kind to us,” Old said. 

“We would love to get a big crowd on course, and we are advertising the meeting more in surrounding areas, so we have our fingers crossed.”

Balranald changed both of their race dates after the 2021 season but this year will be the first year the club will get to host both days.

“We changed our October meeting to Cox Plate day just so we weren’t competing with Victorian clubs that race on Derby Day, and last year that worked well,” Old said. 

“With our March meeting, we had to compete with Carrathool on that week or a week after, which is hard on the crowd, but this time, it means we won’t have that competition, and the weather should be much nicer.”

The Balranald Cup race day is a family-fun event, and the committee is trying to look after the youngest racegoers, along with visiting trainers and jockeys that make the meeting possible.

“We will have the big screen with the Sydney races as well as the locals and it’s really more of a family day, and we will have kid’s activities and things like that,” Old said.  

“There is also the jockey’s and trainer’s incentive, which is a cash bonus, and it something we are trialling to get some more horses here.”

Southern NSW amongst other regions hasn’t fared that well over the past six months, with severe flooding late last year resulting in meetings at Moulamein, Wentworth, and other venues being abandoned, and the club will be hoping that locals and visitors are keen to get back to the races.  

Gates will open at 11am and there will be live music and entertainment, full bar and catering options, TAB and bookmakers, while the club is still taking marquee and gazebo bookings. 

Historic Balranald Cup up for grabs

The Balranald Race Club boasts a long and proud history, having been founded in 1884.

All types of racing have been conducted at their different racecourse over the years, with jumps racing once a very popular spectacle. 

It’s interesting to note that the late Bes Murray – a Indigenous Elder and community stalwart who passed away in 2016 – is credited with riding the winner of the last hurdle race ever to be run at the original Balranald racecourse, some 25 years before it moved to the new course in 1969.

In more recent times, Balranald has conducted non-TAB community race meetings, and with Covid getting in the way of the club racing in 2021, and track conditions proving an obstacle in 2022, it means the most recent Balranald Cup winner was the Erin Maher-trained Mr Gustavo in 2020. 

Ridden by two-kilogram claimer Madison Lloyd, the nine-year-old started second favourite before winning comfortably from the Russell Hogan-trained Cooee March (Josh Richards, $4.60) in second and the Con Kelly-trained Lucky Spinner (Brad Vale, $8) in third. 

It will be interesting to see which popular NSW and Victorian racehorses are entered in the $14,000, 1400m event next Saturday.