Spiders return to Armidale to chase big prize money

IT’S been 13 years since the echo of horses’ hooves clattered around the Armidale Paceway.

But come Sunday, the popular sport will return to the city with Armidale Harness Racing Club hosting a massive eight-race TAB program from 1.35pm.

Organisers are doing it by twos. With the dust settled on Sunday’s return to the track, the club will stage the second of its new annual two-dayer on Sunday, March 30, also a TAB meeting.

Travel to trials became an issue after the course’s closure 13 years ago. So with that in mind, the club opted to get the track back and running to stage those trials, according to club president Pete Munsie.

“A return to racing here has basically rolled on from there. We’ve got a hard working group who wanted racing back here, and it’s all paid off.”

But in the president’s mind, three people in particular have been instrumental in making pacing’s return to Armidale a success - curators Bernard Shortis and Johnny Enks, and club secretary Julie Maughan.

“The track was resurfaced 25 years ago. Bernard and Johnny have done a terrific job getting the surface back up to what it is today with what they’ve had to work with,” he said.

“And Julie’s done a fantastic job organising the days and getting the program together.

“We only had funding for six races (from NSW Harness Racing), but Julie worked on them and got funding for the other two.”

Munsie is understandably “more than happy” with not only nominations for Sunday’s eight-race fixture, but also the prizemoney on offer for both meetings.

Programmed this week will be three heats of the St Kilda Hotel Armidale Carnival of Cups for C0 only pacers. The $8000 final will be run next Sunday.

“All eight races this Sunday are worth $3000 a piece,” Munsie said.

“We’ve got the Hygain Golden Horseshoe Prelude (for three year olds) this week, and for next week’s $10,000 final, preference will be given to horses that started in the prelude.

“And the Pepper Tree Farms Armidale Cup to be run next week is also worth $10,000. That’s great prize money for our first year back.”

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