By TOBY WALKER
GRAFTON'S July Racing Carnival ended on a high yesterday with a bigger-than-expected crowd packing into the Grafton racecourse for the Maclean Cup meeting.
The move by the Clarence River Jockey Club to stage the Cup on a Sunday to take advantage of TAB coverage paid off, with about 2500 people passing through the gates. And with more punters delivering on and off track, betting turnover received a boost with the $1.2 million placed with the TAB helping to make up the $1.5 million shortfall experienced during the carnival's first four days.
Jockey club chief executive Dale Thompson could not have been happier with this year's carnival, rating the week-long event a success, despite rain driving numbers down by about 800 people on Ramornie day last Wednesday.
"With the extra TAB meeting included this year we've come pretty close to square with last year's numbers," he said.
"The crowd (yesterday) was better than the Saturday crowds we normally get.
"I think the extra day away from (the Grafton) Cup day gives people a chance to recuperate and gather their thoughts ... and Sunday is a good family day so I think it has got potential to become bigger."
Mr Thompson said Stormhill's recordbreaking run in last Thursday's Grafton Cup was hard to beat as the carnival's highlight.