New dates and new beginnings for Balranald

Balranald Racing Club will race on March 19 and October 22 this year.

Balranald Racing Club will embark on a new era in 2022, with two new race dates set to reinvigorate the small but hardworking Southern Districts club. 

Having raced since 1883, and at Greenham Park since 1969, the club over the last 50 years has raced twice a year; once on Derby Day, the Saturday prior to the Melbourne Cup, while the club has held their Balranald Cup meeting on what used to be Blue Diamond Day, the last Saturday in February.

With their February meeting then clashing with the Albury Country Championships meeting a few years back, the Balranald Cup meeting was then moved to the second weekend in February, 

Balranald Racing Club President Tony Conway explained that crowds started to suffer, with extreme temperatures making it tough on everyone involved with the meeting. 

“This meeting has always had a strong emphasis on being a family day. The crowds started to drop off because of the weather, and who would want to take the kids out on a 40-degree day after the first week of school,” Conway said.

“Traditionally, we always raced on Blue Diamond Day, which was always Balranald Cup meeting and it got to the stage we were going to race in the second weekend of February and it was two hot and we had to change it.”

Conway explained that their Derby Day meeting also started to suffer, with the club competing against the once-a-year Victorian non-TAB meeting at Wycheproof.

“The other big thing was that we raced on Derby Day and Wycheproof race that day, and they race once a year and all the Swan Hill and surrounding people go to Wycheproof,” Conway said. 

“We found it hard to get a crowd, sponsorship and the other thing was horses and jockeys, and I got the hint that if we didn’t make the decision to change, someone else was going to make it for us.

“So, we decided to take Cox Plate Day instead, and at the same time, the other big change was a new date for our (Balranald) Cup, which got moved to Golden Slipper day (March 19).

Conway said his committee were working hard to offer well-rounded race days on March 19 and October 22.

“We have done some things different, and hopefully it is better for the racing industry and our community,” Conway said. 

“I don’t believe in change for the sake of change, but sometimes change is important and at the end of the day, everyone needs to work together.

“For Cup Day we will offer free admission and we want to welcome everyone back to the races and get everyone wanting to come back each year.”

The Balranald Race Club also host a popular Melbourne Cup calcutta after the Derby Day meeting, and despite racing on Cox Plate Day going forward, Conway said the club will still host their calcutta and support the Balranald RSL.

“After the Derby Day races, we have always had a calcutta and it was a good fundraiser for the club and good social event and just a good night at the RSL,” Conway said. 

“When the first Derby Day meeting was called off because of the Covid, we still went back to the club for the Calcutta and the crowd was down about half, but we started adding the money up and I thought there was mistake. 

“They sold $2500 worth of tickets online and suddenly my phone went berserk, and it was the best calcutta we’ve ever had.

“Even though we are racing Cox Plate Day, we will still do the Derby Day calcutta at Balranald RSL and I think we will keep selling tickets online too.”

For the time being the club will be shifting their attention to their new-look Balranald Cup race day on March 19. 

Anyone wishing to attend this meeting will be assured of plenty of fine food and refreshments with great entertainment provided by Scoogs’ Backward Beer Bolt after the last race, and for more information readers can contact Ash on 0488 631 056.

The club will have a jumping castle and other kid’s activities all set in the picturesque surrounds of Greenham Park lawns and shade, and the race track should be in perfect condition after the recent summer rains and the good irrigation system in place. 

The $12,000 Balranald Cup headlines the meeting and readers can click here to find out more about the meeting.