TAB coverage is the aim
BALLINA Jockey Club is prepared for an influx of up to 6000 people today for the traditional Boxing Day race meeting but vice-chairman Stan Hayes wants his social showpiece to be seen by a wider audience.
The meeting creates the club’s biggest turn-over of the year but Hayes is keen to take the fun off-course by having Boxing Day at Ballina recognised by Racing NSW as a TAB meeting.
The TAB can handle only so many meetings each day and generally broadcasts and bets on those with the highest quality horse flesh.
Hayes knows that with so many Boxing Day meetings around the country the BJC is well down the pecking order, but he is trying to buck the trend by improving the quality of racing from within.
Racing NSW sanctions five races at the meeting and the club provides the prizemoney for the sixth as well as topping up the feature event to give it that status; only a full card of races and an increase in prizemoney will bring the better horses, and in turn gain the attention of the TAB.
“We feel that we need at least six races on the card; we like to spread the afternoon as far as we can for the crowd, they deserve that,” Hayes said.
“And we felt the need to top up the prizemoney to create a feature race.”
Five of the six races offer the bare minimum $3500 purse, with $2450 for the winner. The feature event is worth $5000 with $3500 to the winning connections.
“There is a big shortfall there for us to make up,” he said.
“We do have a big turnover, but the meeting costs plenty to run – the bigger the crowd, the bigger the costs.
“We would probably have to restructure the meeting a bit to facilitate the TAB but we would be happy to do that.”
For those who are making a day of the Ballina Boxing Day meeting, the club promises to deliver the best service yet.
Hayes and his staff have identified three distinct crowds of race-goers who they intend to cater for in full.
“We wanted to spread the crowd out and give everyone what they want,” Hayes said.
“Firstly there are the punters and they have their betting ring; then there are the families who we provide plenty of room for on the grass; and probably the biggest crowd at this time of year is the youngsters who are coming home for the holidays.
“Lots of kids who have graduated from the local schools and universities have moved away for work, and they tend to come home for this race meeting.”