‘Iconic’ Warialda meeting not to be missed

A big crowd watches the Leon Cross-trained Mr Malu win back in 2019. Photo: Bradley Photos.

Warialda Jockey Club will celebrate 170 years of racing on April 1, and a hard-working committee will be out to put on a big show, both on and off the track.

The time-honoured Warialda Cup will headline the meeting, while fashions, music, and off-track entertainment will make the race day an event not to be missed. 

“The Warialda Cup is iconic in the bush racing scene, and Warialda was the first of the western bush meetings to hold a cup meeting,” Warialda Jockey Club President Andrew Phillips said. 

“Moree and Inverell are country, but we are a fair dinkum bush race meeting, and I think we are an iconic race meeting.

“Warialda is a traditional, old style experience that has some modern compass, and if travellers want to check us out, I think we have a lot to offer them.”

Fashions on the field has grown to be a big part of the popular North West race day, and the club wants to make a statement with their competition, which is quickly becoming one of the biggest in country NSW.

“It’s a beautiful place, and people drive through a really wooded area for a couple of kilometres, and it opens up to this bush paradise of a racing meeting,” Phillips said. 

“We have put a lot of funds and energy towards the meeting, and especially the fashions this year, and more so than any other year, and we are hoping to build the fashions into an iconic part of the race day, so people might even attend just for the fashions.

“We have $2000 in prizes minimum and overall, there is $1000 in cash.”

Phillips wanted to reiterate that the meeting will cover all bases, with Warialda Jockey Club offering something for every demographic. 

“The yabby races will be run by the local junior cricket club to raise funds for what they need, and we are looking forward to that,” Phillips said. 

“We have three local people singing some softer music during the day, and we have Greg ‘the hat’ Henry back for the night session, and he is a really popular DJ.

“He’s very entertaining, and he plays great music from the past through to the present, and some classics that never go out of favour, and we will finish up at about 10pm at night.”

Racegoers will have the choice to camp out at Warialda Jockey Club, or take the party back to town, and the club is imploring travellers to take advantage of the free camping facilities.

“There is a courtesy bus running right through the day and night, and it will bring people to the races and make sure they get home safely,” Phillips said. 

“I also want the grey nomads to know that there is ample room for camping, and an abundance of area for anyone wanting to bring their caravan and swag, and there is no charge.”

If that wasn’t enough, legendary trainer and jockey Leon Fox, who is a product of Inverell known best as the ‘George Moore of the bush”, will be on course, and he will be sure to regale racegoers with some of the high points of his distinguished career in the saddle. 

“We’re thrilled to have Leon in attendance,” Phillips said. 

“He is going to be interviewed by Greg Kachel and Brian Baldwin on his life in racing, and I’m sure he will talk about the time he rode for the Queen, and Leon is by no means one to skite about his success, but I’m sure it will offer racegoers an insight into his success, and how a boy from the bush made it on the big stage.

“He spent a better part of his younger life at the higher echelon of the sport, and I think a lot of people will want to hear what he has to say.”

On a more solemn note, it’s always a bittersweet moment when discussing the late Darren Jones, who passed away after a fall at the 2017 Warialda Cup meeting, and Phillips said it was important that the club continued to pay respect to Jones, his family, and the horses that were killed that day.  

“We pay respect to Darren Jones every year, and as sad as it is to have lost Darren, we’ll never forget what he did for bush racing, and for Warialda, and we will continue to run the Darren Jones Memorial Sprint, and we will continue to build that up,” Phillips said. 

“We’re throwing a bit more prizemoney into it, and we maintain his plaque 12 months of the year, because the family come to sit and reminisce, and as a club, it’s important we do that. 

“We also lost three horses that day when Darren passed away, and we have honoured those horses too with a graveyard and headstones, and it’s important for us as a club to not only want to think to the future, but also honour the past.”

As far as the race day, there is a plethora of reasons to want to get along, with Warialda Jockey Cub set to offer some really country hospitality.

There will be a full bar, kiosk, TAB and bookmakers on course, and there is the popular dash for cash, along with plenty of entertainment.

For more on the race day click here.