A $14 mill betting bonanza
By TONY WHITE
THE barriers have opened for the official launch of the Clarence River Jockey Club's (CRJC) 10-day, $750,000 Grafton July Racing Carnival.
The CRJC hosted a 40-strong gathering of sponsors, media and club directors at the South Grafton Ex-Servicemen's Club on Thursday evening.
And with the 18-month crippling broadcast wars settled, CRJC president Bob Pavitt predicts turnover to edge back to the record levels of 2004.
"With the TV fiasco finalised we're hoping turnover will be much better and we can look back on this carnival as another springboard to fame," Pavitt said.
Punters, with renewed betting confidence, are expected to launch into a $14million betting frenzy during the carnival, considered the jewel in country racing's crown.
Already the CRJC has received a major boost with the pre-carnival signing of a rich, updated five-year sponsorship deal with Tooheys NSW (Lion Nathan).
The Tooheys agreement and several new major carnival sponsors this year including Black Toyota, Tursa and Casella Wines, underlines the confidence in the carnival and Grafton racing.
Tooheys has agreed to be umbrella sponsor of the carnival for the next five years and this year has gained naming rights to the CRJC's flagship event, the XXXX Gold Grafton Cup.
However, under the new agreement, the CRJC has the opportunity to find further naming rights sponsors for the Grafton Cup from 2007 onwards.
"Our company is delighted to continue a sponsorship arrangement with the Clarence River Jockey Club," Tooheys NSW acting regional manager Bruce Macfee said on Thursday night.
"We realise the importance of racing in Grafton and our regional customers."
Pavitt said the club was grateful to all its sponsors, big and small, for supporting the carnival.
Carnival racing opens on Thursday for the Westlawn Finance Grafton Cup Prelude Day, featuring the $12,000 Grafton Cup Prelude (2200m) and $12,000 John Carlton Cup (1200m). It ends with the Maclean Bowling Club Maclean Cup Day, on Sunday, July 16.
'Be Bold in your Black & Gold' is the theme for day.