BLUE skies late yesterday afternoon has given Lismore Turf Club secretary-manager Michael Timbrell faith that today's XXXX Gold Lismore Cup will be run.
About 43mm has fallen on the racetrack this week, and the NSW Bureau of Meteorology has predicted scattered showers and thunderstorms for today, but it seems Lismore's biggest event is likely to run – hopefully.
“We are hopeful the weather will be kind to us,” Mr Timbrell said.
“This is obviously the club's biggest day of the year and we need to give the meeting every chance to go ahead.
“We are still hopeful a crowd in excess of 5000 people will attend and enjoy the festivities that have been planned for the last four months.”
While the turf club will do all in its power to ensure the day continues, ultimately the decision rests with Racing NSWstewards. Stewards inspected the track at lunchtime yesterday and will make a final call early this morning.
“Following the track inspection we have found the track to have excellent grass cover, but the track is rated a heavy nine at this stage,” Northern Rivers Racing Association chief steward Craig Pringle said.
“With no further significant rain the Lismore Cup meeting will proceed as scheduled. If more rain falls, another inspection will take place at 6.30am (this morning).”
The importance of the Cup meeting to the turf club's continued survival is paramount.
“About 40 per cent of our total business comes from the Cup,” Mr Timbrell said.
“It's hugely important to us and a washout day like that would hurt us.
“We just hope the community supports the day, which in turn supports us.
“Don't be afraid of getting mud between your toes. Enjoy yourself and the racing and maybe wear gumboots instead of high heels.”
Lismore's City Centre manager, Stephen Nelson, said the Lismore Cup brought obvious benefits to the local business community.
“I can't put a dollar figure on it, but through observations the clothing and hairdressing businesses have been going gang-busters,” he said.
The obvious spin-off to the pubs, clubs and restaurants were also welcome when the punters returned to the CBD after the races, Mr Nelson added.
In his years at the helm of the club, Mr Timbrell can't remember an occasion when the Cup has been washed out.
In 2007, the event was postponed from September to November due to the equine influenza outbreak.
The rescheduling of the Cup to a Saturday, away from the gazetted half-day holiday, hurt the gate with only about 2000 punters attending – way down on the usual 7000 crowd.
Should more rain fall overnight or tomorrow and the races are called off, the turf club can ask Racing NSW to sanction another Cup meeting later in the year.