Picnics back on track at Gilgandra

The Gilgandra Jockey Club looks in terrific condition ahead off their New Year’s Day picnic meeting and their Gilgandra Cup meeting on January 3.

Almost three months of no picnic racing in NSW will end tomorrow with the Gilgandra Jockey Club hosting the first amateur meeting of 2021.

In good news for country-based racing participants, the NSW Picnic Racing Association (NSWPRA) is quietly confident their season is now back on track. 

“Most of the tracks I’ve been talking too have said they will be right to hook into to it and have a go,” said NSWPRA President, Craig Tyack,

Since the 2019/20 Picnic Championship final in Dubbo back in September, only Forbes (October 10) and Gilgandra (September 26) have hosted picnic meetings, and Gilgandra will again offer picnic racing participants a chance to get out and earn some prize money. 

“I am confident we will get back to some normality,” Tyack said. 

“We are going to do it again at Tulli (Tullibigeal), Condo (Condobolin) are still going ahead, Bedgerabong are racing, Tottenham are racing, and Ardlethan said they should be racing.”

Geurie is set to be the next picnic meeting to go ahead on January 30, and Tyack believed the chance to host these once-a-year-meetings would all come back to the ever-changing Covid-19 status in Sydney and surrounds. 

“This will all depend on what happens with lockdowns, but things seem to be getting back to normal out here and I’m thinking it will stay that way,” Tyack said.  

As far as Gilgandra Jockey Club is concerned, the club is hosting a strong six-race-program, with nine jockeys in action, meaning full fields and plenty of competition for NSWPRA Championships points. 

The feature on the day is the $6000 Kate Smith Memorial Secretary’s Cup, which is an Open Trophy race over 1280m.

Gilgandra Jockey Club vice president, Andrew Schier, said the feature event had a special place with the club, which celebrated the contributions of John Smith, and his late wife, Kate Smith. 

“Kate (Smith) was the wife of John Smith, and they were our former secretary/treasurer partnership, and they gave us an incredible 98 years of service,” Schier said. 

“John is still going along and it his birthday tomorrow and he actually has a couple of horses in, and one in the race with Brett Robb (Blue Channel) and he is of course trying to win Kate’s Cup.”

Schier said the Smiths were widely respected for their contributions to the club over the years. 

“They sort of mentored me when I first started out and everyone knew Kate Smith and she was Aunty Kate to a lot of jockeys and apprentices and it is good to have the race on that day in her memory,” Schier said.

The Gilgandra Jockey Club picnic meeting will be the lead up event to Sunday’s Gilgandra Cup meeting, and Schier said the track surface was in great condition and ready to handle back-to-back meetings. 

“It is absolutely bloody fantastic. It looks great,” Schier said. 

“We have had 54mls over the last 10 days, it is a good 4. I’ve never seen it with more cover and in better condition.

“We’ve raced back-to-back many times. We have raced on New Year’s Day and the next day and we’ve had no issues.”

The first race is set to jump at 2.30pm and NSW Country and Picnic Racing will publish a story on the club’s cup meeting on Saturday.