FOOD, GLORIOUS FOOD: Food trucks will be a feature of this year's Ballina Cup. Pictured is the scene at a recent food truck festival in Lismore.
FOOD, GLORIOUS FOOD: Food trucks will be a feature of this year's Ballina Cup. Pictured is the scene at a recent food truck festival in Lismore.

Ballina Cup day to be a ‘carnival’

THE Ballina Jockey Club is hopeful a carnival atmosphere and a new date for the running of the Ballina Cup will be big winners.

This year's race day will be held on Friday, January 17.

It's a change from previous years when the cup was run in September, but it's one that the jockey club's general manager, Matthew Bertram, said was a return to the past when the race day was held in the summer period.

And a feature off the track this year will be food trucks, which have proved popular at other events around the North Coast.

"It will be a market vibe," Mr Bertram said.

"There will be live music -- I think that's what locals are looking for."

The change in date for the races came about by fluke.

The 2018 Ballina Cup had to be postponed due to poor weather, with the race then held in January, 2019.

The food trucks were scheduled to be on track at the 2018 event, but because of the postponement, they were not available for the January races.

But everything is set for the big day this year.

The January race day last year proved to be a popular move with punters as it was held during school holidays, attracting both locals and visitors to the Ballina racecourse.

The Racing NSW scheduling has since allowed for the race to be moved to January, and benefit from the prize money allocated for showcase events.

Mr Bertram said that means the field for the cup will be the best it has been in years.

"It was a perfect opportunity," he said.

He said the aim was to build the race day back the heyday when it was a feature of the Ballina social calendar.

The cup day has seen a downturn in recent times for several reasons, including a change in legislation that allowed school teachers to take the half-day holiday which was once gazetted for Ballina Shire.

Since then, Ballina Shire Council has also knocked back the Ballina Jockey Club's applications for other variations on the holiday.

But Mr Betram said the mid-January race day was right in the middle of the school holiday period, and he said he hoped that would see a return of the crowds.

"We think it's the right move," he said.

"But we will review it down the track."

As for the racing, there is a total of $300,000 in prize money on offer for the eight-race card, with $65,000 for the Slipway Hotel Ballina Cup.

The Ballina Jockey Club and the Slipway Hotel each will have a corporate marquee, and tickets are available through the venue's websites.

Discounted early bird tickets for the races are available from the Ballina Jockey Club's website, while tickets also will be available on the day.