Ryan Maloney rides a winner at Lismore. Local racing will continue for now. Photo Marc Stapelberg
Ryan Maloney rides a winner at Lismore. Local racing will continue for now. Photo Marc Stapelberg

The changing landscape of local horse racing

NORTHERN Rivers racing continues but in a much different racing climate at Grafton tomorrow.

Ballina, Lismore, Casino, Coffs Harbour and Grafton trainers will descend on the Clarence River Jockey Club’s nine- race TAB program at Grafton in a sparse sporting landscape fed by the disastrous coronavirus epidemic.

There will be no Queensland raiders because of the closed borders, so that will be a boon to the locally based Northern Rivers trainers.

The jockeys registered to ride in this North region of the state will also have less competition from the likes of Robbie Fradd, Andrew Mallyon, Jake Bayliss and Ryan Maloney.

CRJC chief executive officer Michael Beattie said Tuesday’s nine-race program is “still on, subject to government and Racing NSW” stipulations.

“We will race for as long as we can,” Beattie said.

At this stage the huge July Racing Carnival is still although preparations for that are in a holding pattern.

It is much the same for the Lismore Turf Club’s September 24 Lismore Cup meeting.

LTC secretary manager, Scott Jones, said a gala dinner to announce the Cup sponsors was to have been held Saturday night.

However that function has been postponed and is in a holding pattern while the pandemic continues on its global path.

The LTC has cancelled other functions as well but prepares for an April 18 TAB meeting.

“Hopefully we will still be racing,” Jones said of the pandemic path.

“We’re preparing for that, we still have the upkeep of the track as well. The good news is that we have been able to obtain a half day holiday for the Cup meeting.”

At nearby Ballina Jockey Club general manager Matthew Bertram is also hopeful an upcoming TAB meeting next Tuesday will be held.

“At this stage all our functions have been cancelled and I’ve been working from home for a week,” Bertram said.

“Fingers crossed we will race April 7. Just without a crowd.

“We are hoping racing can hold together and keep going because it is a huge industry not only in NSW but Australia.”

All three club administrators stressed that racing would continue only if the participants remain safe and healthy and there is no danger to the general community.