The biggest race day in Narrandera’s racing season is coming up quickly, with the last race meeting before the Narrandera Cup on this Sunday.
“There’s the T C Lee Memorial on Sunday July 23 and then the actual Narrandera Cup is on August 19,” said Narrandera Race Club’s racing manager Michael Bailey.
Bailey is hopeful for a good turnout for the weekend, although admits that is will depend on the weather.
“We’ve got a good wet weather track. Normally it will absorb more because it’s on a sandhill and clay. It does reach a saturation point, as we found last year. That said, this time last year we’d have over 300 millimetres of rain already.”
According to Bailey, the competition for the next two races should be interesting and race meetings at the Narrandera Race Club have grown in popularity in the last few years.
“We used to have just one meeting and now we have three.”
The Race Club’s change of fortunes has been quite recent.
“All of our meetings are TAB meetings. That means they’re televised by Sky Channel around Australia and across the world. Which means that we have more prizemoney. Better prizemoney means more foot traffic and that means more profits that we can then put back into the club and the grounds. June 23 is a seven race card and there’s $140,000 in prizemoney – that’s $20,000 a race. We’re a bit above standard here at Narrandera.”
The introduction of the TAB has meant that the races are now generating more interest from further afield.
“Now we’re regularly getting strong representation from Victoria and Canberra. Once you start putting out prizemoney for a maiden horse, you get more interest. We’re well placed; Leeton has a TAB meeting but there’s nothing much further west of that. We’re not too far from the Victorian border either.”
It’s the proximity to Victoria that has made a real difference in interest. Narrandera is now drawing trainers from across its southern neighbours and the ACT as well. Narrandera’s easy distance from Wagga means that trainers sometimes stay for a little while and compete in meetings at both towns.
“Because we’re right on the highway they’ve got a pretty good run to get here from Shepparton. Same with Canberra. They’re not having to drive on goat tracks to get here,” Bailey said.
“Victoria has less tracks, similar prizemoney and more horses. If the race is right, the trainers will come.”21