Hiddenv gem Hillston ready to celebrate 150 years of racing

Hillston Jockey Club will host their six-race program on Saturday. Image: Hillston Jockey Club.

With a proud history in the Southern Districts, Hillston Jockey Club will celebrate 150 years of racing on Saturday. 

President Will Storrier explained what it meant to him and his hard-working committee to celebrate such a historic milestone. 

“It’s really 175 years if you go back to the early races, but it stopped and started, and this year, we’re celebrating 150 years of racing,” he told NSW Country and Picnic Racing. 

“It’s pretty remarkable for a small community like ours to have an event like this that is so old and going so strong.

“We’ve got a really good committee, and everyone gets behind it. 

“Plus, it is a real local event, and we don’t try to turn it into a massive, big race day. The locals get out and support it, and so do people from Cobar and surrounding towns.”

The club is set to have a feature wall of old newspaper articles and photos showcasing its rich history, and with farmers in between picking and sewing cotton, there’s a rare lull in the region, and Storrier believes the community will be out and about for their ‘one big day of the year. 

“It’s a real social day, and for Hillston, it’s our one race meeting of the year,” he said. 

“Everyone makes a bit of effort and gets dolled up; we’re all excited to get there.

“It will be a good chance for everybody to get out and socialise between seasons; it’s a good break and great for the mental health of the community.”

After not racing in 2023 due to the wet weather, the club invested a lot of time and money toward track upgrades, with the racecourse re-cambered.

Storrier said trainers will be pleasantly surprised on Saturday. 

“We did a heap of work, and now when we get a lot of rain, it just washes off,” he said. 

“We won’t have the trouble we have had in the past, and the stewards came out last month and were happy with it; the jockeys and trainers will love it. 

“It will be a really good experience for those guys who come out, and hopefully, it will make them want to come back.”

Storrier wanted to thank local contractors and businesses, who all chipped in throughout the works. 

“We had a grant to get the work done, and a lot of the local guys did a lot of the work at cost price,” he said. 

“The community is great like that. As soon as we have something we need done, they are all willing to chip in and get it done. 

“They all want to be there to enjoy it and do whatever they can to make the day happen.”

While racing will be the focus on Saturday, with the $16,000 Namoi Cotton Limited Hillston Cup headlining the program that carries $81,000 in prize money, there will be plenty for racegoers of all ages. 

There are $2000 worth of prizes to be won in the fashions on the field, kid’s entertainment, food and refreshments, bookmakers, and entertainment after the last race. 

“There are buses from town that leave at 12 p.m., and everyone in motels can catch the bus out. Once the races finish, there is a live band from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m., and buses go back in until 6 p.m.,” Storrier said. 

“There are local and interstate bookies and a good atmosphere where everyone is betting. Then, most of the crowd sits at the top of the hill, close to the bar, and watches the fashions in front of them between races.

“Sitting on the hill, with the sun on you; it’s a great day. Plus, this year, we’ve moved the kid’s area in amongst the crowd so they can be part of the action. We’ve really tried to make it a day for everyone.”

There are caravan facilities for travellers, with power, toilets, and showers included in the $20-a-night site fee. 

“That’s one thing we don’t get enough of, and we want to push getting more caravaners to the races,” Storrier said. 

For more on the meeting, click here