New barriers arrive in time for bumper Lightning Ridge Easter meeting

The new Lightning Ridge starting gates.

It’s an exciting little period for Lightning Ridge Race Club, who welcomed new starting gates from Coonabarabran Jockey Club on Saturday. 

Last year, Lightning Ridge were forced to utilise flag starts because their barriers weren’t functioning properly, but according to Lightning Ridge Race Club President, Campbell ‘Rock’ Murray, that won’t be an issue when his club holds their PW Concrete and Gravel race day on April 8. 

“We have our new barriers turning up tomorrow, which is really exciting for the club,” Murray said.

“Coonabarabran got Wyong’s barriers, and we got Coona’s barriers, and it’s a big improvement on what we had. I would say the ones we had were there from the 60s or 70s.”

Lightning Ridge have been working hard to provide patrons and participants with the best facilities possible, and last year they were finally able to unearth an upgraded undercover area, and Murray is looking forward to taking full advantage of the new facility when they race on Easter Saturday. 

“We did all the new buildings and painting the year before last, and the track is looking good,” Murray said.  

“Before we raced last year, we hadn’t run for two years prior to that, and last year was the first time we used the new building with the undercover area and kitchen, so it was a bit of a dry run last year, and we are looking forward to getting the best out of it this year.”

It might be small, but it is a hard-working committee at Lightning Ridge, and Murray said the club is always looking to move with the times, such as the implementation of online ticketing. 

“We sell a lot more presale tickets online these days, and it makes the gate run a bit smoother, and last year, I think we had 500 presale tickets,” Murray said. 

“We are always trying to improve things, but the hardest thing is trying to find people to help, and it’s always the same people.”

It’s a big weekend for Lightning Ridge, with their annual rodeo and Easter Festival making it a worthwhile trip for racegoers. 

“They have got the Black Opal Bull Ride on Friday night, and then they have a Miners challenge down the street in the morning, and then the races in the afternoon, and it makes for a pretty good couple of days,” Murray said.

“It’s a big weekend for tourists, and all the locals come back for it, and it drags a lot of the surrounding district to town; we usually get a bus from Walgett, and people really look forward to getting down there for it.”

The Woodham Petroleum fashions on the field is growing in stature each and every year, and with Lightning Ridge Opal Queen Breanna Mitchell the guest presenter, Murray expects the fashion’s event to be the main attraction off-track. 

“We have fashions on the field, and it should be really good again. Our bar runs until 6pm, and then the Bowling Club and pub in town, which are only 100 and 200 metres away, and they have bands on after we shut our bar, so all you have to do is walk to one of the pubs, plus there is fireworks.”

For more on the race day click here and NSW Country and Picnic Racing will have more news on the Lightning Ridge Cup and other races in the coming weeks.