Third times a charm as Hay Jockey Club prepares for 150-year celebration

Mother Nature hasn’t made it easy, but against all odds, Hay Jockey Club look set to celebrate 150 years of racing on Saturday. 

Flooding rains have left a path of destruction further north, and many roads leading into Hay are closed, but a hard-working committee and Hay community, led by club president Cam Clark, have buckled down to make sure their meeting does in fact go ahead. 

“We are really lucky. The river’s peak came through yesterday, just two days before our race meeting, but the levee bank held out really well and we have been busy getting ready for our races,” Clark said. 

“It’s a five-race-program this year as a lot of horses couldn’t make it due to the floods, but we’re racing for the town and the community. 

“We don’t go out to make a huge amount of money, but we just do it for the town. 

“The shops, pubs, club, hotels, coffee shops, and businesses do roaring trade in the lead-up and during the races and it slingshots the town into the BBQ, party and festive season.”

Despite road closures and some localised flooding, the president said patrons will be taking boats, buggies, cars, trucks, and choppers to the races, with Clark himself needing to ‘boat in’ to town just to help prepare ahead of Saturday’s bumper non-TAB meeting. 

“Everyone will get here for sure, and while it has been hard, everyone I’ve spoken to in town is excited for the day,” Clark said. 

“I’ve had to boat in from my farm. The driveway held up okay to start with, but now I’m boating 300m to 400m to get into town each day.

“I’ve been talking to all of the businesses every day, and 80% of our sponsors are local, which means they are really behind our race day and they see the benefit in us hosting a big meeting.”

Hay last raced in 2019, and Clark explained that his committee has been attempting to host their 150-year celebrations for three years.

In 2019, we celebrated 149 years of racing, and we were really pumping ourselves up for a big 150th in 2020, but like so many other meetings, we had to pull the pin for reasons of Covid, and it broke our hearts a little bit.

“Then it happened again in 2021, and again we had big plans and we were excited for the race day, but here we are now, and we might have five of our seven roads leading into Hay closed, but it isn’t going to stop us.”

Clark and his committee are expecting upwards of 2000 patrons on Saturday, and he said the meeting was a chance for everyone to catch up and socialise after what has been a difficult period for Hay and other communities.

“We have 15 marquees booked and zero cancellations. We have reunions, 21st birthdays, Christmas parties, and general get-togethers,” Clark said. 

“We will have some of the old trophies from 1870 on display, plus we have fashions, entertainment and all that stuff.”

In a big day for the club, Hay Jockey Club’s fashions on the field competition will see a whopping $9000 in prizes up for grabs, while there will be for bar facilities, a BBQ and plenty of entertainment. 

On track, the $20,000 Hay Cup headlines the five-race-program that carries $71,000 in prizemoney. 

Racing jumps at 1.55pm, gates open at 11am, and a free bus is running from town at 12.30pm. 

For full fields click here, and to book tickets or find out more about the race day, click here