By MIKE HILL
GRAFTON\’S famous greyhound winter carnival has been abandoned this year because of the worldwide coronavirus pandemic.
Greyhound Racing NSW made the announcement in a special statement in April.
A dejected club president John Corrigan said it was \’disappointing but inevitable\’.
\”We are all very disappointed that the Grafton Carnival can\’t go ahead this year, but with the situation that we are all in, we can\’t do anything else really,\” he said.
\”No one can travel and in this current climate the decision is understandable. In the 40 years I have lived in Grafton, I have never seen a July Carnival not staged.
\”It just had to happen under the current climate.
\”We depend on plenty of support from Queensland trainers, and there are so many who come from around NSW and even in Victoria for this carnival.
\”How would the Queenslanders get home?
\”It\’s unfortunate, but we just have to go with it.
\”And we don’t know how long this lockdown will last either.
\”We now must look to a bigger and better carnival in 2021 when we will be racing on our new racetrack.\”
In its statement, GRNSW said: \”The carnival, which has become an institution in the sport in NSW, and subsequently given significant benefits to the local community in the region during the first two weeks of July, has today become the latest event forced to be cancelled due to the pandemic.
\”Whilst it is a difficult decision for the club, GRNSW are mindful of the current warnings of the relevant health authorities and the Government, and traditionally the carnival attracts people from right across Australia, which naturally requires significant travel considerations.
\”The carnival also has a strong social element and given the current social distancing practices and the nature of people camping on-site, it would not be appropriate to continue this year.
\”The Grafton Club looks forward to still supporting participants in the region at this current time with ongoing racing opportunities, while assuring that safety and the health of all remains paramount.\”
Club officials had been concerned in recent months that the carnival might not go ahead because of coronavirus.
The carnival has been a giant magnet drawing many trainers and families from across the eastern states to Grafton during winter.
Some trainers have been venturing to the carnival for more than 40 years.