FROM humble beginnings in 1952, the Gunnedah Coursing Club is “firming in the market” to become the hub of greyhound TAB racing in north- western New South Wales.
While nothing is set in concrete, Greyhound Racing NSW (GRNSW) has indicated it intends to streamline its program in 2013-14 and introduce much-needed regular TAB meetings in this region and the Mid-North Coast.
At present, both areas are black holes in GRNSW’s TAB coverage of the state and “big decisions” are expected to be made by January.
There are currently 34 tracks operating in the state but, in a bid to centralise business, GRNSW may reduce the number of clubs.
Of the 34 operating clubs in the state, the Greyhound Breeders Owners and
Trainers’ Association (GBOTA) controls nine clubs and owns the freehold on five.
Lismore, Gunnedah, Bathurst, Appin and Temora are owned by the GBOTA while the land at the Muswellbrook track is also owned by the GBOTA.
The other four clubs, Gosford, Wentworth Park, Bulli and Maitland are leased by the GBOTA.
GBOTA CEO Brenton Scott said that while the decision would ultimately be made by GRNSW, Gunnedah and Tamworth are the destination front-runners in the centralisation of racing in north-western NSW.
“Demand is very high for a TAB track in the North West and on the Mid-North Coast,” Scott said.
“Gunnedah is one of the front-runners for such a venue because the club and facility is virtually ready to go straight to TAB status, attracts strong nominations and is centrally located.
“From what we can gather, it is likely GRNSW will make a decision early in the New Year as TAB dates have to be sorted, allocated and finalised,” he said.
Long-time Gunnedah Coursing Club stalwart Geoff Rose, who is also Chairman of the GBOTA, said Gunnedah was ready to make the jump to regular TAB status and, in turn, represent north-western NSW.
“I must stress, it is a GRNSW decision, but it looks like Tamworth and us (Gunnedah) are the front-runners,” Rose said.
“We (Gunnedah) have already conducted three TAB meetings and it wouldn’t take too much to prepare for regular TAB events.
“It could mean up to 80 meetings a year and up to $1million injected into the facility infrastructure almost immediately, including transforming the track from grass to sand.
“It will create jobs and bolster the local economy like you wouldn’t believe,” he said.
Geoff Rose took over as president of the Gunnedah Coursing Club in 1990 and has been responsible for many new innovations and improvements at the club.
“We really have a first-class facility here but imagine going from 25 meetings a year to 80,” Rose said.
“At the last TAB meeting we staged, we turned over $280,000 off-course on the NSW TAB, $300,000 on Super TAB and took $19,000 on course.
“GRNSW will meet over the next two months to finalise decisions, not only for this area, but for all of NSW.”
Gunnedah Coursing Club stages a 12-race program today.