Leeton ‘here to race’ as club prepares to cover for Carrathool

Leeton Jockey Club President Grant Fitzsimon is pleased to see his club hosting a pop-up meeting on Saturday in place of the abandoned Carrathool meeting. Photo: Leeton Jockey Club.

With the popular Carrathool race meeting abandoned for the second consecutive year owing to the impacts of the Covid-19 pandemic, the Leeton Jockey Club will again step up to host a non-TAB meeting on Saturday.

There are 91 nominations across the six-race-program, and Leeton jockey Club President Grant Fitzsimon was happy for his club to cover for Carrathool for a second year in a row.

“We had this meeting last year and it was quite a successful day, and the nominations are really good,” Fitzsimon said. 

“While acceptances don’t come out until Thursday, we should have some really good fields.’

Fitzsimon said it was a surprise to be offered the meeting, with Fitzsimon unaware Carrathool had elected not to race.

“I had a phone call from Brian Charman at Racing NSW and he asked me if we wanted to host the meeting,” Fitzsimon said. 

“The SDRA stewards went around and inspected a few tracks and they contacted Sydney and said Leeton was in a position to host the meeting and that’s how it all happened.”

Leeton generally race twice a year, but the club has been able to host additional meetings in recent seasons with some other Southern Districts clubs choosing not to race throughout the pandemic. 

“Absolutely we want to race,” Fitzsimon said. 

“That’s what we are here for – we are here to race. 

“We only have two scheduled race meetings a year, and we have been very fortunate during Covid as we have picked up meetings here and there.

“We had four (meetings) last year, and the year before was the same and I’m definitely happy to be racing again.”

Fitzsimon said a hard-working committee had the course ready to race for most of the year, making it easy to say yes when Racing NSW came calling.

“We have a couple of committee guys spending a lot of time on the track,” Fitzsimon said. 

“We have the infrastructure in place, and we are ready to race when the opportunity comes.”

A decent crowd showed up to this meeting in 2021 and the club was hoping for much the same on Saturday. 

“I’m not too sure how many we will get but we should get a few there,” Fitzsimon laughed. 

“Even though there is some rain forecast, there is a lot of undercover area and it should be a good day.”

The crowd isn’t Fitzsimon’s main concern though, and he was just happy to race and offer lower class gallopers another chance to go around at a non-TAB meeting.

“It’s a hugely important meeting for a lot of horses that aren’t up to the class of TAB meetings,” Fitzsimon said. 

“There is still good prizemoney at $10,000 a race and it just gives some horses a good opportunity to race that might not have gained a start elsewhere.”

Gates open at 11.30am on Saturday and Fitzsimon said with Covid-19 restrictions easing the day prior, patrons could enjoy a carefree day at Leeton Jockey Club.

“It’s just a standard race meeting with full bar and canteen, the TAB, metro bookmakers and local bookmakers,” Fitzsimon said. 

“A few of the restrictions will be lifted on Friday too, so it’s good for everyone coming to the races because there will be no signing in, no wearing masks and owners can talk to the jockeys.”

Readers wanting to know more about Saturday’s meeting can check out the ‘Leeton Jockey Club’ Facebook page