They’re off! Race season starts

The racing season in Narrandera will be launched this Saturday. Some important changes have happened with the racing calendar this year.

The Narrandera Race Club will launch their season on the weekend and it’s set to be a big year for the club.

The season starts with a Spanish night, where guests can celebrate the racing year with paella and sangria.

“Our guest speaker on the night will be Trevor Sullivan, who’s a trainer,” said Narrandera Race Club racing manager Michael Bailey.

“He’ll be interviewed by Luke Francis – Luke’s the head person on the Wooden Spoons show at Triple M.”

Luke’s father, race caller Paul Francis, will also give a ‘phantom call’ on the night.

“It’ll be a phantom call of what he thinks are the best horses to have run at Narrandera over the last 40 years,” Bailey said.

There have been a few exciting changes to the format this year.

“The first meeting is the LW Peacock Memorial meeting, sponsored by ProTen. That’s on June 18,” Bailey said. “Then the Leeton Toyota Narrandera Cup will be on Sunday July 22, which is now 1600 metres.

“On the same day we’re going to have the TC Lee Memorial Cup and for the first time that will be a 2100 metre race. The horses will start at the 300 metre mark.

“We’re going to clean up a track and people will be able to see the horses come out of the stalls. When you see a horse at the end of the race, they’ve been going and they’ve used up most of their  energy, but when you see them come out of the stalls you realise how powerful they are,” he said.

The last meeting on August 18 will be the Narrandera Community Race Meeting, sponsored by ProTen. According to Bailey, if the first two race meetings are a success, then the Community Race meeting will be able to be a family day out.

“The old date was previously the Narrandera Cup. If it all works out, we’d like to be able to get some things organised for kids.”

The changes to the race meetings, along with the addition of the TAB, will hopefully entice a broader spectrum of trainers to Narrandera for the race meetings.

“Even though it’s July, it’s the start of the Melbourne Cup run. We’re not going to get Melbourne Cup horses here of course, but it’s the start of a lot of racing activity in Victoria.

“Trainers from Echuca, Swan Hill, Geelong – they sneak up over the border.”

The TC Lee Memorial Cup, for instance, can now offer $30,000 in prizemoney, and even the Narrandera Cup has been brought up to a “true cup race” of 1600 metres.

“That’s not something I can take credit for,” Bailey said. “Racing NSW has rewarded us for getting out there and pushing for it.”

The Race Club function centre has also received a new coat of paint and the drainage systems at the race course have been upgraded.

“A lot of work has gone on that’s mostly unseen. Hopefully I never have to see them tested,” Bailey joked.

“In the mounting yard we’ve also got a new safety fence up to the work health and safety standards of Racing NSW.”

The Spanish night starts at the Race Club at 6pm.

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