Lismore Cup catches flu
By STEVE SPINKS and GRAHAME TIMBRELL
THE Lismore Turf Club has postponed the Lismore Cup meeting set down for September 27 because of the continued shutdown of racing due to the equine influenza outbreak.
The Turf Club reached its decision on Thursday night following a special board meeting.
The club is hoping to move Lismore's biggest event to November 29.
"We have a non-TAB meeting set down for December 1 and we're looking at dropping that and holding the Cup on Thursday, November 29," Turf Club secretary-manager Michael Timbrell said.
"We should know within one to two weeks whether Racing NSW agrees.
"We understand the importance of the race to the area and Peter V'Landys (Racing NSW CEO) is very sympathetic to our plight.
"We're quietly confident we'll get the green light if racing is back to normal by then."
Lismore's decision follows that made by the Ballina Jockey Club on Monday to also postpone its Cup meeting from next Thursday to mid-November.
Ballina is hoping to run its big meeting on November 15.
If both clubs get their preferred dates, there will be two weeks between the cups.
Racing NSW has tentatively granted Ballina November 15.
The traditional lead-up meeting to the Lismore Cup, the Rousillon Handicap set for September 23, has also been postponed.
Meanwhile, the Lismore Turf Club has asked the Lismore City Council to cancel the existing half-day holiday for Cup day and will seek assistance from the council to have a local half-day holiday gazetted for the new cup day.
Ballina is negotiating to do the same for its half-day holiday.
Lismore mayor Merv King said there was a good chance the half-day holiday would be re-gazetted for the November date.
"I think under the circumstances the department knows the problems the clubs are having," he said.
"We'll make the application when the Turf Club is granted the date they want.
"I haven't spoken to other councillors yet, but I can't see anyone not supporting rescheduling the holiday. It just makes sense."
The chairman of the Lismore Turf Club, Ron Marriott, said the club had no option but to postpone the carnival.
"Although the Lismore Cup is still three weeks away, the advice we have been receiving from Racing NSW is that we had little or no chance of being able to run a normal race day with a crowd in attendance," he said.
"In the interests of all concerned, including sponsors, supporters, businesses and the racing community, we thought it best to make this decision now."
Barring short breaks during World War I and World War II, the Lismore Cup has been held every year since 1908, with big celebrations planned for the centenary.
There's a possibility that the traditional 2100m race will be reduced to allow horses a shorter preparation, but much depends on when racing resumes to normal.
The president of the Ballina Jockey Club, Gary Kliese, said it was important for the two clubs to work together on programming.
"This is important not only for the success of both meetings but for the benefit of owners and trainers as well," he said.
"Obviously we will have to look at distances for all races given that horses will have had little racing leading into the carnivals."
The two committees hope to meet as early as next week to start programming the two meetings.
Meanwhile, tests on horses earlier this week at Casino, Grafton, Lismore and Ballina for equine influenza have returned negative.