Upcoming Inverell season shaping to be the hidden ‘sapphire’ of North West racing

Inverell Jockey Club is looking very picturesque. Photo: Inverell Jockey Club.

Racing action will take centre stage in the North West of NSW next month with the Inverell Jockey Club set to kick off their 2021/22 season. 

A very wet winter meant Inverell couldn’t race on July 31, with their meeting subsequently transferred to Moree.

In fact, there hasn’t been a meeting at Inverell since March and Vice President Mike Witherdin explained that the course proper and local trainers had felt the full brunt of mother nature.

“We last raced in March and three days later we had a flood in town and the track was actually flooded and it just never dried out,” Witherdin said. 

“For the next month, we got another two inches here and another two inches there and the water table was really high. 

“Just being record breaking wet weather made it difficult and our trainers have copped it the most because they haven’t had access to the grass, and we have had to top dress the sand track a couple of times because it had been washed away.”

Witherdin said the Inverell surface had since fully recovered, and with the grass coverage returning as good as ever, their upcoming four-race season that runs from October through to January is bound to be a success.

“It’s great now. We have had a terrible winter, the worse in memory really as far as being able to use the track, but it has come good now,” Witherdin said. 

“The winter wet has dried out and we get frosts and extreme temps in winter, but that grass is just starting to kick in and green up.

“It has grassed up nicely now and it will promote the growth for the spring, and it should be very good for racing.”

Inverell Jockey Club will kick off their season on October 16, which triples as Caulfield Cup Day in Victoria and The TAB Everest day in NSW, meaning racing fans and punters alike will be looking forward to a day at the races. 

“The Caulfield Cup Day is our next meeting, and we are hoping to have some sort of crowd,” Witherdin said.

“It is one of our biggest social days and traditionally it’s been a big family the day with the local school with merry-go-rounds, pony rides and all of that but at the moment, allowing for crowds, we will shift the family day to November because we really don’t know what the next meeting will look like.”

Witherdin acknowledged the region had done it tough and community members were looking forward to getting to the races for a rare chance to decompress and catch up with friends in a social setting. 

“Everybody in town is looking for a social outlet. All codes of the football season finished short of the semi-finals and there are no other organised social activities,” Witherdin said. 

“Hopefully come October we will be fully open, and they will be able to get out and enjoy the fine weather and fine racing.”

After the October 10 non-TAB meeting, Inverell host the Bush Battlers Cup as a Sky 2 meeting on November 20, before their annual non-TAB Boxing Day meeting, which is followed quickly by their Sky 1 Inverell Cup meeting on New Year’s Day.

“It’s always a good time for the town and everyone gets out to the races,” Witherdin said. 

The Vice-President believed that local trainers would also be looking forward to the season kicking off.

“They are all battling away. The other thing about Inverell is that we are sort of the centre of a lot of the one-day race clubs and within a couple of hours from here, there is a total of nine one-day clubs,” Witherdin said. 

“Our trainers will target those meetings if they go ahead, and they will have horses racing here like they usually do.”

With the Inverell racing season getting closer, Witherdin said punters might want to follow an ‘omen’ bet at Flemington on Wednesday, with the well-named ‘Inverell’ set to contest the Victorian Derby Prelude as a $4.40 chance.

“Inverell is racing on Wednesday and there is a bit of interest there,” Witherdin said. 

“I did a story in the local paper and a few blokes on the radio have been talking about it and it could be an omen.

“It’s called Inverell because his dam is called Sapphire Lass, and Inverell use to be very big into the mining of sapphires.”

If Inverell does greet the judge first at Flemington on Wednesday, local punters could have some fat wallets and will be eager for a big day at the races on their home track, supporting the best of country and North West racing. 

For more information on the Inverell Jockey Club season, including race dates and key contacts, readers can click here.