By TERRY WILSON
THEY’RE showing tons of spirit, literally, out in central-west New South Wales as the clock ticks down to what will hopefully be the return of the popular Coonamble Racing Carnival in October.
As the horrid COVID-19 continues to wreak havoc across the nation, organisers of the October greyhound carnival are keeping everything that they can keep crossed so that one of the gala meetings of country racing can go ahead from October 1 to October 4 – and with a brand new sponsor on board.
Last year coronavirus forced the abandonment of the carnival at the 11th hour.
It was a bitter blow for all concerned because the four-day party has always been a major social and financial attraction for Coonamble, a township of 2700 situated on the Castlereagh River.
Now the spirit of the west is just one part of it.
The addition of NED Australian Whisky as a major backer is another.
The new deal means that the carnival’s feature event will now be the NED Maiden Gold Final (305m) with a first prize of $12,000.
Organiser Kevin Gordon is understandably concerned about what may lie ahead but is extremely positive that things will be right come October.
“Yes, if it was next weekend (the carnival) it’d be off,” said Gordon last month.
“You’ve got Queensland trainers, Victorian trainers and Sydney trainers, which represents 50 per cent of the people who go there.
“However the carnival is in the long weekend of October and it’s only July now, so we have some water to run under the bridge
“If we deal with this properly in Sydney and people get immunised by October we should be going okay.”
Gordon expects a final decision on the carnival going ahead is likely to be left until about mid-September.
Last year’s abandonment came on the back of rules that forced the carnival’s unofficial social headquarters to refuse entry to anyone who did not live in the Coonamble region.
“The club, by law, had to bar anyone from the club who did not come from Coonamble,” said Gordon.
“We were going ahead but that was the straw that broke the camel’s back. The club is one of the main sponsors there and everyone goes there afterwards.
“We’re moving on this year as if it’s going ahead. Again I say it’s 90 per cent going ahead – as long as we don’t get a hiccup like we’ve had in Sydney over the last few weeks.
“I think now everybody realises they have to be vaccinated – and it’s still nearly three months away.”
As previously mentioned, the NED Australian Whisky Maiden is the feature event of the carnival which starts on Friday twilight and runs through to Monday afternoon, October 4.
The Monday afternoon provides a big finale to racing, featuring a number of finals that includes Silver and Bronze Maiden finals and the Tvati Coonamble Cup (530m) worth $4000 to the winner.
As well that afternoon there are other finals carrying $1000, $2000 and $3000 for winning connections.