After two abandoned meetings, club hopes for third time lucky next year

Graham Sinnamon
Graham Sinnamon
The president of the Central Otago Trotting Club is hoping for third time lucky and is talking of a packed crowd stretching to Chatto Creek for next year’s meeting.

The club has one meeting a year, held on January 2, which is normally a popular attraction for holiday makers in Central Otago over the Christmas holiday period.

But meetings have been abandoned in the past two years.

In 2020, champion driver Ricky May suffered a medical event while racing in the Central Otago Cup.

Emergency services were called and the rest of the meeting was called off.

May made a complete recovery and was set to return to the Omakau track and race this year.

But heavy rain led to the meeting being abandoned.

Club president Graham Sinnamon said it was the first time in the history of the club the meeting was abandoned because of rain.

But the club simply had no option. It had been working with Addington caretaker John Denton around the condition of the track before the meeting and it was in good condition.

The weather though did not play ball. It started raining mid afternoon on New Year’s Day and did not let up.

"We were philosophical in the farming aspect of it. But a lot of people had put in a lot of extra work for it," he said.

"We were set to get a big crowd. We were told that there would be 160,000 more people in Central around that time and even if we only got 1% of that, that’s another 1600 people coming to Omakau.

"The community all benefits from a day like that.

"But now the Omakau Lions have more frozen chips then they know what to do with. The coffee guy had 76 bottles of milk that he couldn’t use.

"We were not trying to get ahead of ourselves but we were told there was going to be a big crowd."

The meeting is in the top five for both gate and on-course betting for the harness code in the South Island. A crowd estimated at about 9000 was at the meeting a couple of years ago.

Sinnamon said he could not put a monetary figure on how much of a financial hit the club and other organisations had taken but no-one was in the blame game.

"Everyone is sticking together. Our sponsors and trusts and supporters are with us and we appreciate that."

The club had considered trying to get an alternative date but with both Roxburgh and Cromwell racing on January 4 and January 6 respectively it was just too tight in timing.

The Central Otago Trotting Cup would be on the card in Winton on January 20.

Sinnamon said the club was in good heart and its finances were fine.

"Hopefully it can be third time lucky for us. We will get a beautifully fine Central Otago day and they’ll come flooding in. The lines will be back right through to Chatto Creek."

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