Trainers, owners and horses from across the state will be vying for a record $186,000 in prizemoney and trophies at the Leeton Toyota Narrandera Cup on Sunday, July 19.
But, with the meeting usually patronised by trainers from Wangaratta, Swan Hill and Bendigo, the Narrandera Race Club is expecting the border closure to impact on numbers.
The eight race Sky Racing and TAB program gets underway with the first race around noon but the meeting is closed to the general public.
Race day manager Michael Bailey said the meeting was the richest west of Albury and Wagga, and featured the Leeton Toyota Narrandera Cup carrying a $32,000 prize purse.
Mr Bailey encouraged Shire residents eager to be part of the atmosphere to dress in their Cup day finery and watch the races at the local clubs and pubs.
“Realistically, the money that goes on at the TAB betting eventually funds the race club and prizemoney.”
He said owners of horses racing and with identification can attend the track 30 minutes before the race and leave 30 minutes after.
Following 12.4mm received over the weekend, the track is rated as a soft six.
Mr Bailey said the closure of the Victorian-NSW border due to the COVID outbreak may have a “massive impact” on the meeting.
“It is a day by day proposition as to what is going on,” he said. “Normally, Victorian trained horses provide about 30 per cent of our fields so that is a significant drop off in the number of horses we can attract.
“To counter-act that we have contacted trainers in Canberra and central western NSW.
“The indications are good with two or three of the bigger trainers bringing teams for the prizemoney and the horses will be on top of the ground, more so than the heavy tracks around.”
Mr Bailey said the bigger prizemoney and strong Victorian horses often scared off lesser known trainers and horses.
“This is an opportunity for horses and trainers which haven’t been to Narrandera before to come.
“I’m quietly confident we will still end up with good full fields.
“Considering the heavy tracks around, our track is a six at the moment and will get better.”
Mr Bailey said there would be strictly no public admittance to the track.
“It was surprising a few turned up at the last meeting and had to be escorted off,” he said.
The feature race is the Leeton Toyota Narrandera Cup over 1600m and a benchmark 66 handicap will be again held over 2100m.
In other racing news, the NSW-Victorian border closure has forced the Corowa Race Club to move their July 27 meeting to Leeton.
“This is good for Leeton and good for racing – down the track we may well be doing the same thing,” Mr Bailey said. “It’s happening for all sporting events with the football club dropping away – anything we can put on will keep things going in the towns.
“I was hoping to have the public back at the August meeting but what has happened in the last week has probably finished that off.”