By Geoff Newling
Walcha Jockey Club has made a lightning move to enhance its annual two-day carnival. The WJC has revised its schedule after Racing NSW suggested its change a Benchmark 70 race to an open handicap over 1000m, advised long-serving club secretary Kevin Ferrier.
“They (Racing NSW) suggested we change from the B70 to an open sprint over the 1000m,” Kevin Ferrier said today. “They said it would also be a good lead-up race to the Quirindi Jockey Club’s Lightning (1100m) in two weeks.”
Left: WJC Vice President Norm Bazeley and long serving club secretary Kevin Ferrier beside some brilliant Canna Lillies looking toward the new finishing post
So the ever mindful New England Tablelands club heeded the advice with Stacks Law Firm of Tamworth coming on board as the initial sponsor of the debutante sprint.
“It’s one of four feature races (on Friday) next week,” Kevin Ferrier said of a carnival kicking off with an eight-race Cup day on Friday (February 10) and then a five-race non-TAB meeting on Saturday (February 11).
“We’ve got the Elders Walcha Cup ($35,000), the Woodie Wonder Racing Ron Martin Memorial Maiden ($32,000), the Graziers Cup Class 2 ($25,000) and now the Stacks Law Firm Tamworth Lightning ($25,000).
The club is also offering a $20,000 bonus ($10,000 to both trainer and $10,000 split between owners) on Walcha Cup day. The Martin’s Lime and Fertilizer Services $20,000 bonus is sponsored by local business owners Cameron and Dianne Martin and paid out to a trainer (and the respective owners) if they can win the 2017 Walcha Cup and any other two races on the Friday meeting, which have a minimum of 9 starters.
“It’s going to be a big day,” Kevin Ferrier said. “And Norm (WJC vice-president and track curator Norm Bazeley) has done a great job with the track. It’s looking perfect, couldn’t be better.”
Norm Bazeley has been on a mission since he first signed on a WHC committeeman eight years ago: “I got conned,” the prominent owner said as he laughed about the invite to join the WJC committee. “But my ambition has been to make Walcha the best racing surface in the Hunter and North West Racing Association.”
Inspecting the track this week it appears Bazeley is close to achieving his ambition with a lush grass coverage ready to host 13 races over two days next week. Nominations for the two-day WJC Cup Carnival close at 11am on Monday.