With Covid-19 causing chaos for the NSW racing industry since March 2020, the NSW Picnic Racing Association has been one of, if not the most severely impacted sectors, losing countless meetings in a very tough 18 months for trainers, owners and amateur jockeys.
Despite these challenges, and the peaks and troughs associated with the pandemic and subsequent NSW and regional lockdowns, racing has still gone ahead, and if meetings haven’t been held at regular picnic racecourses, they have been held on TAB tracks, giving participants a chance to still race for some prizemoney.
While the 2020/21 season has come to a close, with only the NSW Picnic Champion Series final to be run and won at Coonamble on October 10, the 2021/22 season will officially kick off at Wellington on Saturday.
Again, this isn’t normal by any means, but with the Cobar, Geurie, Come By Chance, Lockhart and Young meetings already abandoned in the early stages of the new season, Racing NSW made the right decision to put on at least two replacement picnic meetings, with Wellington racing on Saturday while Murrumbidgee Turf Club will host the second meeting of the season on Friday, October 8.
Wellington Race Club Secretary Dale Jones was pleased that his club could help the NSW Picnic Racing Association and explained that it was a no brainer to host the meeting when given the opportunity by Racing NSW.
“We were contacted by Racing NSW to see if we could host it,” Jones explained.
“It wasn’t on our normal program of course but Wellington Race Club is happy to support the picnics and we think the picnics is an important part of the industry and we are happy to support and host the meeting tomorrow.”
A lot of travelling trainers will make their way to Wellington, while local picnic jockey, Michael Johnston, will be in action on his home track.
“We haven’t got any horses trained on track racing at Wellington tomorrow, but we have a local trackwork rider (Johnston), who is a picnic jockey, and because of Covid he hasn’t ridden for months, and he is looking forward to it,” Jones said.
“There are a lot of trainers from around the area that have those second-tier horses racing too and this meeting gives them a chance to be competitive and win some prizemoney.”
Crowds still aren’t allowed back on course, but Jones was still looking forward to a good day’s racing.
“Unfortunately, only participants are allowed on course, which is a shame because the picnics draw a good following, but it is what it is, and we will focus on the racing,” Jones said.
It is important to note that NSWPRA Picnic Champion Series points will be on offer and they count towards the 2021/22 Series.
For owners and trainers wanting a bet on their ponies on Saturday, Southern Cross Bet will be fielding on the meeting and for updates and results, racing fans can keep an eye on the NSW Country and Picnic Racing Facebook page.
Full fields can be viewed here.