Harness Racing NSW’s expected decision to increase the number of Tamworth meetings from 26 to 30 this year illustrates the healthy state of the industry in the city and the region, says the sport’s boss in Tamworth.
Julie Maughan, Tamworth Harness Racing Club chairwoman, also said the move would vindicate HRNSW’s decision to keep the sport at its present location following the governing body’s $5 million purchase of the Tamworth Showground in November 2016 and it being renamed Tamworth Paceway.
HRNSW, who has agreed to spend $2 million on upgrading the facility, will vote on the proposal to increase the number of Tamworth meetings at a board meeting on Tuesday. The four added races would bring the total number of races in the region to 36 this year.
Maughan said boosting the number of Tamworth meetings to 30 would be “absolutely fantastic”, and would be the result of THRC increasing its horse pool so that it was consistently delivering 10-race, full-field meetings.
She said the proposal was also a response to THRC attracting horses from a wide area, including Queensland, and a sharp increase in the number of horses trained at Tamworth Paceway. HRNSW’s decision to purchase the showground, which was finalised in July last year, had been “prosperous” for the local industry.
“Everything [at the Paceway] is increasing,” she said, adding: “So with the redevelopment, things are moving forward at a very good pace, which is excellent for the Tamworth Harness Racing Club.”
HRNSW chief executive John Dumesny also said the $5 million investment to buy the showground had delivered a boost for the sport in the region.
“We are starting the upgrades to the Paceway in the next couple of months, which include a roof over the race stalls, a new officials pod and a refurbishment of the on-track permanent stables,” Dumesny told the Sydney Morning Herald.
“We have more than 10 trainers permanently stabled at Tamworth now and more than 60 horses there, and you can see the result of that with full fields on their programs.
“It has reinvigorated harness racing in the region. We have trainers from the Hunter and Queensland travelling to the meetings, which is great to see.
“Almost instantly the number of horses trained on the Paceway doubled when we bought the Paceway, and this number will grow again once work on the permanent stables is completed.”
Dumesny told the Sydney Morning Herald that the extra four meetings would be introduced on a trial basis and if they “can be sustained through adequate field sizes and eight-race meetings, HRNSW will look towards further supporting owners and trainers in the region”.
The redevelopment work at Tamworth is slated to take place in the fourth quarter this year. While it occurs, four meetings will be moved to Armidale, with two meetings in both October and November.