PHOTO: Happy punters Oliver Brown, Joel Gosden, Josh Wrench, JJ Munton, Rodney Pittman and Ned Savimaki (front) at the Picnic Races held at Coonamble Racecourse on Saturday 7 August.
THE LAST-MINUTE ‘pop-up’ Coonamble Picnic Races have been hailed a success although it was not the best day for bookmakers.
With little more than a week’s notice the Coonamble Jockey Club had the track and grounds in good order for Saturday 7 August and nominations were received from trainers near and far who were keen to give their horses an opportunity to race.
Many trainers also saw it as an opportunity to accumulate points for the 2021 Picnic Racing Championship Series with the finals scheduled for Coonamble on 10 October, the first time they’ll have been held outside Dubbo.
To qualify for the NSW Picnic Champion Series final, horses acquire points for every picnic race meeting they attend in NSW and the highest-ranked horses at the end of the 12 months are then eligible to nominate for the NSWPRA Picnic Champion Series Final.
The pop-up Picnics were held to help make up a racing shortfall as many of the traditional picnics – including the iconic Louth Races which were set to be held on Saturday and the Come by Chance Picnic Races set for September – cancelled due to either wet weather or the financial risk created by ongoing pandemic restrictions.
With solid nominations, 46 horses were selected to start across the six races, although six scratchings saw forty go around on the day.
ABOVE: One of the many nail-biting races that occurred throughout the day.
Just under 200 people came through the gates, manned by volunteers from the local branch of the Royal Far West.
Entry donations matched by the Jockey Club raised $1052 for the branch on the day.
Without too many out-of-towners travelling due to COVID, local punters were still kept entertained and many reported snaring lucky picks at strong odds.
The Brett Robb-trained Hotel Charlie came home in the first race to pay $7 and while the bookies dodged a bullet in Race 2 when the local syndicate of owners of Gorn Hoff (paying $10) watched it struggle home just ahead of the ambulance, Denis Todd’s ‘Combogolong’ paid a handy $5 in the third race.
It was probably the final race that ruined the bookmakers’ day.
A large contingent of the Canham family were on hand to see Step ‘N’ Dollars, trained by a very excited Andrew Bayley storm home and pay $12 to what must have seemed like every local connection on course.
ABOVE: Jockey Brent Evans, Trainer Andrew Bayley, and owner representatives Sally and Keith Canham after Step ‘n’ Dollars’ popular win.