COUNTRY RACING: Liz and Alan McPhee with Jenny Livingstone and Jon and Sue Hohnke at the Wondai Races in July.
COUNTRY RACING: Liz and Alan McPhee with Jenny Livingstone and Jon and Sue Hohnke at the Wondai Races in July. Claudia Williams

Future of country racing up in the air ahead of local meet

FOR the last time this year keen race-goers will gather for a local meet at the weekend.

Wondai Race Club will host their third and final event of their racing season this Saturday, October 19.

With more than three decades of knowledge around the track, Wondai horse trainer Lindsay Anderson said he looked forward to a solid day of country racing.

"Our first race this year held on Anzac Day was outstanding,” Anderson said.

"We had a lot of the younger generations coming through, which was great to see.

"The meet in July didn't do as well, probably because of the time of the year and it was that bit colder.

"We are expecting a good turnout this weekend.

"It's not going to be as hot as some of the warmer days we have recently experienced.”

Horses were fast out of the gates in the Wondai Cup race in July.
Horses were fast out of the gates in the Wondai Cup race in July. Claudia Williams

Even with strong numbers predicted to attend the local meet at the weekend, Anderson said country racing had really struggled over the past few years.

"Five years ago we used to have 44 race meets every year in the South Burnett region,” he said,

"Now we only have 14, so you can do the maths.

"We don't have as much input from mayor-governing bodies, which was one of the reasons why we suffered.

"The prizemoney is only $5000, compared to larger cities who are sometimes racing for over $1 million.”

Anderson said there were a number of things that could help reignite country racing in the area.

"Firstly, we need to get more prizemoney for our competitors,” Anderson said.

"We're not just paying the winners but also the feed costs and maintenance of the track.

"It would be a huge bonus to have another six meetings in our region to get the horses racing more and maintain their level of training.

Previous entrants of the girls' category at the Wondai Races Fashions on the Field.
Previous entrants of the girls' category at the Wondai Races Fashions on the Field. Matt Collins

"We need to make sure we are counting the entry numbers, bar and TBA sales so we can show the higher-ups that we are here for the long term.

"At Wondai we only host three a year but hopefully we can improve that next year.”

Running in conjunction with the Caulfield Cup in Melbourne and Everest at Randwick in Sydney, the Wondai trainer said they had received the largest amount of nominations he had seen in a long time.

"The field entries were extremely good for this meet,” he said.

"There were at least 12-14 nominations for each of them so we will see some pretty strong racing.

"As it's the home ground for a number of horses, they will have the advantage of racing on a sand track.

"But it will be hard to pick the winners and everyone has a chance.”

The fashion on the field theme is "spring florals”.

Sashes and prizes to be won for Best Dressed Lady, Best Dressed Gentleman, Best Dressed Couple, Best Dressed Girl and Best Dressed Boy.

Gates open at 10am and entry is $10.

South Burnett

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