Racing wrap: Newcastle Racecourse track to the $40m rescue

The Newcastle Herald

Chief executive Duane Dowell estimates the Newcastle Jockey Club’s staff and their all-weather track have helped save the racing industry $40 million in turnover in the past five weeks.

Newcastle Racecourse hosted the Wyong program on Thursday then Gosford’s city standalone meeting on Saturday as wet weather washed out all other thoroughbred racing in NSW on those days. The NJC also saved the Hawkesbury card on April 6, which had the Muswellbrook Cup added to it from the previous day.

Saturday’s Gosford Cup meeting, featuring the $500,000 The Coast, went ahead on a Heavy 9 surface despite Newcastle copping 21.2mm of rain in the 24 hours up to 9am on raceday, after regular showers in recent weeks. It stayed in the Heavy 9 range as another 1.8mm came down.

Racing NSW funded the multimillion dollar redevelopment of Newcastle’s main track to a sand-based profile. It opened in 2017 and has since regularly raced when other tracks have been washed out. “These three meetings, if we didn’t run them, they wouldn’t have been run anywhere,” Dowell said of the recent transfers. “It’s probably supplied the industry with $40 million in turnover, those three meetings, that they wouldn’t have had otherwise. “And that’s not to mention the prizemoney that goes back to participants. That’s the most important thing. “We get that the track, the way it is, this is what is expected of us. We were given a great opportunity 10 years ago to get a great track, and when it’s needed for these instances, we take it on.” Saturday’s meeting was the third in eight days at Newcastle, which is now set for a two-week break. “I don’t think anyone thought we’d get through 10 races when they saw the forecast and the drizzling rain, but the track held up really well,” Dowell said of Saturday’s card. “I still think we had a bit up our sleeve. It never got past a Heavy 9 and I thought it just raced better and better as the meeting went along.”

Dowell saved special praise for track manager Chris Nation, who came back early from holidays in Perth on Friday to oversee preparations. “Credit to Chris Nations’ track team, the hospitality and admin teams, to get that up and going, especially when we had the Craft Alive expo on Thursday, Friday and Saturday [in the betting ring] as well,” he said.

Magnaspin, for trainers Leon and Troy Corstens, surged late to win the The Coast. Another Victorian-trained galloper, Hezashocka (Mick Price and Michael Kent jnr) took out the Gosford Cup.

Jockey Zac Lloyd claimed the Takeover Target Stakes on Semillion as part of a winning treble on the day. Lower Belford trainer Todd Howlett’s Tanglewood won the Highway Handicap, while local jockeys Koby Jennings (Kote) and Darryl McLellan (Sir Ravanelli) rode the final two winners.

Photo Credit: Bradley Photos