CAPTION: A section of the large crowd during the Coonamble carnival in pre-COVID days. The 2019 carnival was abandoned and the 2020 date has been transferred to January.
By TERRY WILSON
CLUB boss Graham Pickering has moved to dismiss talk that the highly popular Coonamble Racing Carnival will be moved permanently to an early-year date.
This year’s carnival was postponed – as was the 2019 staging which was abandoned – after chaos caused by the COVID-19 lockdowns and travel restrictions.
Rather than lose the carnival for a second time in a row, the Coonamble committee elected to delay it until January – this time from Australia Day, January 26, to Sunday, January 30.
Pickering said this led to some sections of the industry believing that the January dates would become permanent.
“There was a bit of a misconception that we were going to run the carnival in January every year,” said Pickering.
“That’s simply not the case because we intend to go ahead with the October schedule as per usual for the foreseeable future.”
And another issue of concern was the heat factor of racing in the heat of summer but Pickering said the installation of air-conditioning in the kennel block would provide some welcome relief for dogs.
The installation of air conditioning is almost finished in the kennel block.
The new cooling system comes at a cost of $68,000, funding provided by Greyhound Racing New South Wales.
Pickering said it was not a project simply for the October carnival, instead a matter of keeping up with the times and having a first class facility for the dozen or so race meetings each year at the central-west NSW town.
Advanced bookings for the new January dates have been solid, according to Pickering.
Among those set to return to Coonamble is defending Maiden champion trainer Noel Massina from Victoria. He won the Maiden with Born To Succeed in 2019.
“We feel confident this will work because there have been probably 95 per cent of trainers who come here who, when they found out about the January race change, who all changed their accommodation,” said Pickering.
In a positive back-up, all of the carnival’s main sponsors have pledged to continue their support.
This includes new backers NED Whisky, whose name is now on the big Gold Maiden final (305m), with $12,000 to the winner.
Racing in January will be from Wednesday, January 26, through to Sunday, January 30 with the big Calcutta draw on the Saturday at the bowls club.
It is intended to race twilight or nights for the first three days of the carnival and it is yet to be decided whether big finals Sunday will be morning, afternoon or night.