Narrandera and Leeton pick up extra meetings

The Leeton Jockey Club will host a picnic meeting in November.

Narrandera Race Club and Leeton Jockey Club have picked up an extra race meeting each, with both clubs set to race later this year.

Leeton will host a picnic meeting on November 5 and Narrandera will put on a non-TAB community meeting on December 17. 

Narrandera’s meeting will be a real chance for the race club to attract a big crowd in the warmer weather, while the committee is hoping that many locals and business houses use the race day to host Christmas parties and end of year celebrations.

“We are extremely happy about getting this meeting. We have been trying for a number of years to get a summer race meeting, and it has fallen into place with this meeting being granted in December,” said Narrandera Race Club Racing Manager, Michael Bailey. 

“It is a good chance for us to showcase our facilities in what will be a warmer time of the year and to showcase our irrigated track, plus it should be a great social event being at that time of the year.” 

The Leeton meeting is of particular importance for local Racing NSW participants, with the race day catering for a lower class of horse and amateur jockeys, and the club gained the praise of Racing NSW Country Chairman, Brian Charman for being ready to race. 

“The Leeton meeting scheduled for Saturday November 5 is a new picnic race meeting added to the schedule,” Mr Charman said. 

“The meeting was added to the schedule after recent abandoned picnic meetings in the region following wet weather including Lockhart on the September 30 and Young (on) October 8.

“In terms of the Leeton Picnic Meeting, the Leeton team and club Chairman, Grant Fitzsimon, have begun a promotional campaign for the November picnic meeting. They will prepare appropriately and stage a terrific afternoon of racing for the participants and the local and broader community.”

Leeton, who were scheduled to race last month on September 26, had their meeting transferred to Narrandera after their track was deemed too wet to race on, and Fitzsimon was just happy to see his club given a chance to race during the peak of the spring carnival. 

“It’s absolutely a good result for the club and community,” Fitzsimon said. 

“We had a washed-out meeting earlier this year in April, but we were lucky enough to pick up a couple of meetings, but then to lose our only TAB meeting (last month) was quite considerable for the club.

“We are quite happy to host a picnic meeting, which will give the community a good chance to go to the races during the spring carnival, and it will help keep picnic horses and jockeys racing after those washed-out meetings (at Lockhart and Young).”

Narrandera Race Club will hold a non-TAB meeting in December.

It has been a very difficult period for Racing NSW due to the recent wet weather, with meetings in all regions postponed, abandoned, or transferred, and Charman explained that Leeton, Narrandera, and other tracks were working hard to be in a position to race in case they were called upon at the last minute. 

“The current weather patterns across the state have resulted in a disruption to the racing schedule, particularly in late September and early October, and all country clubs across the state are preparing racing surfaces outside of their regular schedule to support any possible transferred meeting whilst the weather pattern continues,” Charman said. 

 “This was evident recently in the Southern Districts with Narrandera preparing their racing surface outside of normal scheduling to accommodate two wet weather transferred meetings within a seven-day period, from Leeton and then the Cootamundra Cup meeting on Sunday October 2.”

Charman thanked his hard-working committees for their continued work during this wetter than usual beginning to the new racing season, and he hopes to see clubs continuing their support of other clubs and the racing industry.

“Racing NSW Country conducted a conference in Sydney on the long weekend of October with a large number of country race club committees and executives represented from across the regions,” Charman said, 

“The conference was an opportunity to acknowledge the support of the country clubs in preparing racing surfaces outside of normal scheduling during the extended COVID period and, importantly, now during the wet weather event experienced across the state.  

“There have been a number of clubs in recent weeks preparing racing surfaces for possible transferred meetings and we have seen in the Central and Western Districts the likes of Cobar and Nyngan, generally once a year race clubs themselves, at short notice conducting replacement community and picnic race meetings to ensure the participants have an opportunity to continue to race. 

“The country club, committees, management and track teams, are working tirelessly under challenging weather conditions to prepare racing and training surfaces for each scheduled race meeting.

“Whilst it is disappointing when a club has to abandon a race meeting outside of their control, it is pleasing to see other clubs who may have missed the rainfall provide a racing surface, generally with short notice, to support the industry continuing to race. 

“There have been a number of examples of this in recent weeks, including a Narromine Cup meeting transferred to Cowra, Moree Cup meeting transferred to Tamworth and this week a Coonamble Cup meeting transferred to Dubbo, whilst the Gilgandra Jockey Club also continues to provide a surface in Western Racing for all seasons. 

“The hard work of all the Clubs is certainly appreciated by the industry.”