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Coonamble's Cannonball Ready To Explode (Sunday)

By Mark Brassel

It’s free entry to Sunday’s Coonamble Cannonball race meeting, a Racing NSW Country Showcase program, that offers $275,000 in prizemoney.

“We have received great support from local companies as sponsors including our main one, Nutrien Ag Solutions,” said Ana Robson, Coonamble Jockey Club’s secretary.

Next Sunday is Coonamble Cannonball Raceday. Image by Janian McMillan (Racing Photography)

“This has helped us provide free entry to the grounds with our gates opening at midday.”

The eight-race TAB card features the $35,000 Coonamble Cannonball (1100m) and $50,000 Showcase Super Maiden Plate (1600m).

The annual Bligh picnic races will be staged on Saturday at Mudgee Racecourse, the club being one of the longest continually running picnic race clubs in Australia.

“We’ve been a nursery for horses, jockeys, trainers and owners and we are keen to make people aware of our history that is intrinsic to racing in NSW,” explained club secretary, Scottie Galloway.

“Bligh Picnics was where Hugh Bowman started racing and as he has mentioned before that without the picnic races, there wouldn't be so many opportunities for jockeys to learn their craft.

“It’s a Members and Guests event but the general public are very welcome to come and enjoy the day with tickets available for purchase at the gate.”

Since the first Bligh race was run in 1877, the races have only ever been cancelled a handful of times, primarily a few years during the first World War with Bligh picnics being an ongoing tradition in Mudgee since 1878.

“The races were traditionally an amateur event where members brought and raced horses against one another,” said Mr Galloway.

“But some time ago the meeting became professional and has since enjoyed the support of Racing NSW.

“We enjoy a fantastic day of racing, a wonderful lunch and a fun evening dinner and dancing.

“It has a long history as one of the most glamorous sporting and social events of the year in the Mudgee district, originally spread over two days of picnic racing as well as an evening ball.

Also on Saturday, Walgett Jockey Club will stage its annual six-race PJ O’Brien Memorial meeting with the feature event the Geronimo Farm Equipment Walgett Cup, 1400m.

“There will be a Fashions on the Field for men, women and children, an open bar and luncheon as well as smaller food stalls, novelty races, entertainment and activities for the kids,” said the club’s Sharon Smith.

“There is ample parking and shade areas with betting facilities available on the day.”

The Ballz n All Band will be playing, led by frontman Degen Brown, with the band gaining a reputation for being one of the most energetic and in-demand bands in regional NSW.

Meanwhile, Ballina’s Winter Racing Carnival kicks off tomorrow (Monday 10 June & Sunday 30 June) with the Kings Birthday meeting.

“With one meeting falling on a public holiday and the other on a Sunday, it’s promising to be busy and great fun with prizes for the best dressed, a full TAB, cafe and bar facilities operating,” said the club’s GM, Matthew Bertram.

“And to make a special day of it, reserve seats in the members area with a buffet lunch are just $75.”

UPCOMING NSW COUNTRY RACE MEETINGS
Monday: Ballina
Tuesday: Scone, Bathurst
Thursday: Nowra
Friday: Coffs Harbour
Saturday: Narrandera, Walgett (non-TAB), Mudgee (Bligh picnics, non-TAB)
Sunday: Coonamble, Kempsey

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