The hidden gem that is Deepwater races

The always-popular Deepwater Cup meeting is expected to attract a bumper crowd on Saturday. Photo: Bradley Photos.

For the residents of Deepwater – a small town on the Northern Tablelands of NSW boasting a modest population of just over 450 – their once-a-year race meeting is what puts the community on the map. 

On Saturday, Deepwater’s population is expected to swell towards 3000 people, as visitors from all over NSW and Queensland make tracks for the Deepwater Jockey Club’s six-race non-TAB program.  

“For Deepwater in particular, this race meeting is really important because we only have a couple events a year,” said Deepwater Jockey Club president, Doug Stevenson. 

“We were part of the bull ride in November, and that created a lot of interest, and we don’t have a lot of those things to look forward to.

“We are catering for that 2000 to 2500 mark, and we have had more than that previously, but if we get around 2000, it will be a really good day.”

As far as bush race meetings go, they don’t get any more ‘country’ than Deepwater according to Stevenson.

“We are getting a lot more travellers coming to our meeting; people from Tenterfield, Brisbane, and all over the place,” Stevenson said. 

“They camp up here opposite the bottom pub, and while we don’t encourage people camping in the car park, they still do it, and everyone has a really good time.

“It’s just the old style of bush race meeting. It’s outdoors, you can have a couple of beers, the girls get dressed up, the racing is always good, and it’s just a fantastic day.”

Deepwater Jockey Club dealt with drought, flooding rains, and the Covid pandemic leading up to a successful race day in 2022, and Stevenson believes the club is on the other side of what has been a testing period. 

“Like everyone, we had Covid, and we had a phantom meeting because of a washout, and then last year we finally got to race but had the no dance rule because of Covid,” Stevenson said. 

“We are really looking forward to having a normal race day and from my experience at other events, people are just looking forward to getting out and having some fun.”

The small but hard-working committee have had their challenges leading into Saturday’s meeting, and coincidently, the town is praying for a spot of rain this week.

“We had 30mm of rain a month ago now and it was in a bit of a storm just north of Deepwater, and it’s held up really well,” Stevenson said.

“The track is definitely on the hard side, but we are just hoping to get the 10 to 15 mm which is predicted on Thursday.

“To be honest, the track would handle an inch or more, but we’d be happy to get some rain and whatever comes will only help the track before Saturday.

“We have got (Racing NSW steward) Kyle (Blanch) coming up tomorrow to have a look at the facilities, and we are hoping it will be all good to go.”

While the $17,000 Deepwater Brewing Deepwater Cup over the 1400m journey headlines the action on the track, there is plenty happening off the track in the lead-up to and including Saturday. 

There is the Deepwater Cup calcutta kicking off the at Deepwater Hotel – The Top Pub on Friday night, with tickets on sale from 6.30pm to 8pm before the auction commences at 8.30pm. 

On the day, there will be bookmakers, TAB, plenty of food and refreshments, and a bumper fashions on the field before live entertainment rounds out the day. 

The Deepwater Jockey Club 2023 schedule.

“It’s a really good day and my wife runs the fashions on the field, and we have six categories and over $4000 in prizes, and it’s a wonderful effort and it’s starting to become a real highlight of the afternoon,” Stevenson said. 

“A lot of people turn up to win the fashions on the field these days and we have the band Fugarwie playing, and they have been going to the races for a good 10 to 12 years in a row.

“They are a band from Tenterfield, and they kick off after fashions and run through until 9pm.

“The calcutta is at the Top Pub the night before and Sue and Stu O’Neil have really come on board community-wise and they are doing a free feed at the calcutta, which is terrific.” 

Stevenson also heaped praise onto the Deepwater Jockey Club committee, who have been working tirelessly ahead of Saturday’s meeting. 

“I’ve got a wonderful committee that supports me so well with the organisation part of it and they need to be thanked for their hard work,” Stevenson said. 

“Without them, we wouldn’t have a race meeting.”

It’s set to be a big day at Deepwater, and with 51 horses nominated to race, full fields will be available on Thursday. 

For more on the race day click here