11 February, 2024

Best racing carnival ever

Gilgandra Jockey Club president Jason Tate has hailed the club’s recent two-day summer racing event as the “best carnival ever”.

By Lucie Peart

This year's Gilgandra Cup race meeting was a huge success
This year's Gilgandra Cup race meeting was a huge success

Mr Tate said both days - December 30, 2023, and January 7, 2024, attracted “massive” crowds.

“About 600 people passed through the gates on our New Year’s meeting, December 30. That’s one of our biggest crowds ever.”

Mr Tate said the new dress-up theme certainly helped bring in the punters. The December meeting encouraged racegoers to dress-up in their favourite cartoon or animated characters. Locals certainly understood their assignment, with the characters of The Simpsons, Toy Story, many Disney characters, The Flintstones, and a troupe of Where’s Wally gracing the stage for the Best Dressed judging.

There was also the joint occasions of a couple of milestone birthdays, that being racecourse groundsman Grant Zell’s 50th and Gilgandra Shire Council mayor Doug Batten’s 70th.

The jockey club acknowledged the birthdays by naming two races after the milestone events. Mr Tate said the live entertainment of Brad Haling on December 30 and Under the Radar on January 7 also proved very popular and extended the after-race parties into the night.

The highlight of the annual Gilgandra Cup meeting is the calcutta which was held at the major racing sponsor, Gilgandra Services Club on January 6, 2024.

“It was also a massive calcutta, with $16,000 in the pool, with $11,000 to the winners – a local syndicate.”

Winner of 10 Gilgandra Cups, champion jockey Greg Ryan was the guest speaker. He recalled his long western racing career of more than 4000 winning rides. Trainers Kieran Hazelton and Clint Lundholm were grilled during Q&A session about their Gilgandra Cup chances, and race caller Colin Hodges also gave his famous phantom race call performance.

Mr Tate said news of the successful racing carnival had already reached Sydney, with Mr Tate receiving a congratulatory phone call from the boss of NSW country racing.

“Our TAB turn over was also excellent. We will be keeping the dress-up idea for next year’s meeting, but for now we are looking forward to the Tooraweenah Cup event in February,” said Mr Tate.


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