The Narrandera Cup on Sunday was a hit for the Narrandera Race Club. It was a busy day for everyone involved, with 104 horses starting out of 108 nominations.
“The figures are a long way from finalised, but the first two races cut even and everything else from then on was an improvement,” said Narrandera Race Club Manager Michael Bailey. “There were a few little hiccups – there are at every race meeting – but nothing dramatic and we haven’t heard anything negative from the trainers.”
While attendance was slightly down, the quality and the calibre of the racing on display was undeniable.
“The Cup was a fantastic race. That’s the best line-up we’ve probably seen ever.”
Media and Communications Executive for Racing NSW Julieanne Horsman made the trip to Narrandera from Sydney for the cup in her own time and was very impressed with what she saw.
“The field for the Narrandera Cup meeting – in particular the Cup itself– was exciting to watch. There were many quality horses in that race.
“I can’t believe I haven’t been out to the Narrandera race track before. The Narrandera Race Club punches above its weight.
“The club is fortunate to have a small but dedicated committee who put on a fantastic day and I’m sure we will continue to see bigger and better things from the club in the future,” Ms Horsman said.
Mr Bailey has long expressed the hope that the increased prize money, coupled with the change in racing format to 1600 metre and 2100 metre races, would attract more trainers and horses from further afield. He got his wish.
“The winner of the cup, Itsa Fait Accompli, won an $80,000 race in Sydney about ten months ago,” Mr Bailey said. “Some of the other horses had placed in races down in Melbourne.
“You don’t see horses of that quality and that depth outside of the Albury and Wagga races.”
Itsa Fait Accompli is owned by M D and D C Doyle, members of the Doyle family in Sydney who own the seafood restaurants of the same name. The horse’s owners came to Narrandera for the Cup.
“The reason the horse came was for the prizemoney,” Mr Bailey said. “It’s fantastic feedback to be getting already.”
There was $150,000 in prize money to be won for the entire weekend and the Cup alone commanded a $30,000 prize. According to Mr Bailey, there were a lot of trainers and racegoers at the grounds from Victoria.
“It was a different crowd – an older, more committed race-going crowd. But we had lots of Victorians there. They were looking for tickets into the club rooms.
“They were gobsmacked when we told them that they could go in and that it was open for everyone and not just people who were members or had a horse in the race. We explained to them that the club rooms had been built with money from the people of Narrandera, and Racing NSW and they were open to the public.”
Mr Bailey said that he believed smaller, country race clubs had a lot to offer the wider racing community.
“I think we’re getting more people searching for that proper racing experience, and people aren’t getting that in the cities anymore. I’ve heard that people are finding Randwick too sterile, but at our club, everyone’s packed together in the scrum. Nobody’s cut off.”
Nine full races were run on Sunday and there were 16 horses in the Narrandera Cup alone. Compared to the 2017 cup, where only five horses ran, it was a staggering turnaround for the club. The track was in good condition and it was a clear, sunny day for racing.
The fashions on the field also proved popular, with participants making the journey from Young, Leeton and Wagga to get involved. The Lady of the Day was won by Emma Wells from Young, who took the time to praise the Club’s ingenuity of moving the race meeting to a Sunday.