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Pooncarrie Races saddles up for welcome return

The region’s ever-popular bush meeting, the annual Pooncarie Races, are back after a two-year gap, as trainers and their thoroughbreds, jockeys, strappers, and an large crowd of racegoers once again enjoyed a day of racing under a glorious spring sun.

The Racing Club, opened in 1891, has a long and proud history of bringing the authenticity of a race meeting to regional NSW.

The annual Pooncarie Cup meeting, held this year the week of the month, rewarded all who attended with an enjoyable and unique country horse racing outback experience.

The six-race program, including the Pooncarie Cup, kept the keenest of punters busy.

Bookmakers, of which there were five, could hardly catch their breath, with one Queensland bookie saying he turned over $40,000 on the day.

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Racing Club President for the past five years, Lyle Massey, said he could barely believe the takings, but was humbled at how the day was received by all.

“Everything went off really great, the feedback from the sponsors and the general public was great.

“I was really happy with the trainers’ feedback. All of them said they couldn’t wait to return next year.

“One trainer from Gawler in South Australia said he had a ball. He felt no pressure to win, he could stable his horses and sit back and just enjoy the day,” Mr Massey said.

To attract more trainers and jockeys to the races has been an aim for Mr Massey since he took the reins at the Club.

He believes the key is providing excellent facilities.

The recent addition of a state-of-the-art 12-horse stable block, as well as the installation of air conditioning in jockeys’ and trainers’ rooms, seems to have worked well in attracting more support.

“We secured a $150,000 grant through the shire and this allowed us to purchase the brand new stable block and also the shower and toilet facilities,” Mr Massey says.

“In order to attract more trainers, from Adelaide, Melbourne, and further afield, as well as jockeys, as we have struggled in the past with jockey numbers, we had to improve our facilities.

“The stable block, which we erected ourselves, has been really well received and we had incredible feedback from the trainers.

Aside from the racing, the Fashions on the Field events are always hotly contested and this year was no exception. The representation in the ladies category was fantastic, with a host of incredibly well thought-out and bright spring-themed outfits. The men’s event too saw over 10 competitors vying for the coveted blue ribbon.

“I’d have to say it was the coolest crowd I’ve seen up there in a while, one of the best we’ve had for a long while,” Mr Massey said.

“Seeing all the ladies and gents up there was great, I don’t think we’ve had as good representation on the stage before. It was great to see.”

As the sun set on the Pooncarie Racecourse, a sign of relief was breathed by all involved.

The weekend had exceeded all expectations and now there is a focus on the organisation of next year’s meeting.

“The horse yields this year were great, the jockey numbers too were probably the best we’ve had in a long while but we hope to draw even more next year,” Mr Massey said.

“We have faith that the jockeys and trainers who did attend this year will go down to Victoria or South Australia and tell others about how great the meeting was.

“We really want the Pooncarie Races to be a meeting where trainers can take a break from the hustle and bustle of the city, stop and enjoy a day or two camping and fishing,” he said.

For anyone wanting to get involved, attend a working bee, or lend a hand on the day next year, contact the Racing Club. They are always welcoming people who want to put their hand up for this great community event.

https://www.facebook.com/PooncarieRacingClub/

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