Racing: Confidence high in The Hunter after bumper meeting

THE second annual The Hunter meeting at Newcastle Racecourse was a hit with punters after betting turnover increased almost 40 per cent on last year’s debut.

The Saturday, November 14 program, which featured the $1 million The Hunter, group 3 Spring Stakes and the Max Lees Classic for two-year-olds, was held on a Good 4 surface despite almost 25mm of irrigation and 10mm of late unexpected rain in the four days leading up to the meeting.

It was the second time a standalone metropolitan-level meeting has been held on the renovated multi-million dollar all-weather surface at Newcastle, which was launched in March 2017.

Newcastle Jockey Club chief executive Matt Benson said TAB turnover on the meeting “reflects the quality of the program and the punters’ faith in the track”.

“Total TAB turnover was up between 35 and 40 per cent on last year, which is huge,” Benson said. “The punters voted with their wagering on the quality of the meeting and performance of the track.”

The NJC is also keen to work with Racing NSW about adding a final of a new regional country series to the annual program.

About 6000 people attended the meeting last year but crowds were capped at 2000 this year because of COVID.

Benson said the experience will change how the club caters for future meetings, with a focus on more booked, seated areas, but “all up we were very pleased with how it all went”.

Picture: Simone De Peak