Club confident it can retain Omakau track

The Omakau track. Photo: Jonny Turner
The Omakau track. Photo: Jonny Turner
There is confidence the Central Otago Racing Club will not have to sell its race track at Omakau.

The club has accepted its fate in having to get rid of its race date of January 3 at the Omakau track and will now race on November 27 at Cromwell — two days before the Otago Racing Club meeting at Cromwell.

The date, on a Friday, was one the club had asked for but would have preferred it be at Omakau.

Central Otago Racing Club president Geoff McAtamney said it was disappointing they had to move from Omakau, but they were left with no option.

"I can see where they are coming from. We have at least got a race day. If we had stayed where we were then we would have not got a race day on the third [January 3]," he said.

"We have to be profitable. All the racing clubs in the south went to a meeting 12 months ago and were told they had to be profitable or they would not get support. We have listened and will go to Cromwell."

He said it would be a twilight meeting, starting about 2pm and was confident it would get good support. He said it was about thinking outside the square and getting more people along to the meeting.

The Central Otago Trotting Club had its annual meeting at Omakau on January 2 and it is one of the most popular meetings in the South Island over the new year period.

The track was half owned by the racing club, with the trotting club owning the other half. The trotting club has its own track inside the galloping track.

The way the new Racing Industry Act was framed, any money made from the sale of land went to the governing body, which is NZ Thoroughbred Racing (NZTR) for the racing club.

But McAtamney was confident the club would be safe.

McAtamney said under the legislation, if the club could show the track and its facilities were being used by the community for alternative uses then the governing code could not easily sell the track.

NZTR would have to come up with alternative options should a sale occur, McAtamney said.

He said a club owning a track was a huge advantage, as many courses were owned by district councils, which may eye up the land for development in the coming years.

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