By TERRY WILSON
THERE would not be many better places for greyhound enthusiasts to spend a week or two than at Wauchope on the Hastings River west of Port Macquarie.
Renowned as the home of historic Timbertown, Wauchope comes even more alive than usual when the Christmas Carnival is on for a fortnight over the peak December-January holiday period.
The occasion features the running of the Wauchope Cup (457m) and the time-honoured Butch Monkley Memorial Maiden finals on January 6 to form a wonderful New Year package for both trainers and vacationers.
The carnival is hosted by the Hastings River Greyhound Racing Club at its Bbet Park headquarters in Wauchope and in January the carnival’s feature event, the Cup, carries $15,000 to winning connections.
“We run the carnival from December 26 through to January 6 when the finals are held,” said HRGRC president Rex Nairn.
“We have the Butch Monkley Memorial Maiden heats on December 26 and we’re hoping for a minimum of eight heats for that,” he said.
“The winner gets $5000 in the final, which is on the same day as the Wauchope Cup final on January 6.
“We’re looking at four heats of the Cup, which are to be run on Saturday, January 2, and the heats will be for the best 32 greyhounds nominated.”
The fact that the Wauchope carnival is held in peak tourist time ensures a healthy response from the general public and the Cup, in particular, has regularly attracted greyhounds from far and wide.
For instance, last year the Cup was won by Chevy Rock, trained by Michael Manuel from Butterwick, near Maitland.
Nairn was not sure how far the Cup history goes back but he says it is dated far longer than 1997 when he first joined the club.
“It is at least back to 1997 when I came here and I think it goes back even further than that,” he said.
“And the Butch Monkley Memorial goes back even further than that.”
The Monkley Maiden was struck to honour one of the foundation pillars of the club.
“He and another couple of others built the club and next year it’ll be 50 years ago that they did that,” said Nairn.
“They built it from nothing, inside the horse track.”
The carnival boasts about $60,000 in prizemoney, a sum boosted by the sponsorship of Bbet.
The fact that the Cup covers heats on the Saturday and the final four days later makes it one of the unusual feature events in provincial New South Wales racing.
Away from the greyhound action there is always plenty to do and see in Wauchope with the Timbertown tourist attraction a major drawcard and source of income for the town.