Races stalwart 'moving over'

Judy Muir has spent the past 20 years running the equalisator betting system at the annual summer holiday event at the Hawea Flat Domain. Photo by Linda Robertson.
Judy Muir has spent the past 20 years running the equalisator betting system at the annual summer holiday event at the Hawea Flat Domain. Photo by Linda Robertson.
Yesterday marked a changing of the guard at the Hawea Picnic Races, as volunteer Judy Muir (67) spent the day training up her successor in order to step aside after 45 years in the betting booth, 20 of which she spent running the equalisator operation.

Monica Urquhart was busy learning the ropes to take over the ''major role'' from Mrs Muir next year, but regular race-goers will still see the long-serving betting boss smiling out from the booth windows at the Hawea Flat Domain for a while yet.

Slideshow: Hawea Picnic Races

''I'm not moving out, I'm just moving over,'' Mrs Muir said.

''I just feel I need a back-up, getting to my delicate age.''

Mrs Muir and her team work to a tight schedule on race day, with just half an hour between each race.

''It's full on, but at the end of the day, it's so rewarding.''

While conceding she probably had ''an interest'' in horses, it did not extend beyond her picnic races role.

''I'm scared of them. I like a fence between them and me.''

Mrs Muir's motivation for her lengthy stint at the helm has been simple.

''Working voluntarily for the community ... and providing entertainment for holiday makers at this time of year'', was the spur, she said.

''We're indebted to the people that travel a long way to support us at these events.''

Mrs Muir became involved in the event after marrying long-time local Fred Muir, who has been attending the race meeting since its inception - ''about 66 years'', he estimated.

The couple formerly farmed in Hawea Flat, but have since semi-retired to Wanaka. Mr Muir is one of the longest-serving Hawea Picnic Racing Club committee members.

Organisers at yesterday's meeting said numbers appeared to be down on last year's event, which attracted about 2000 people.

Mr Muir thought the hot, calm weather probably meant many people had gone boating instead.

All proceeds from the race day are given to Lake Hawea community projects.