Aren't we good enough?
DESPITE funnelling millions of dollars into the State Government coffers, Grafton’s July Racing Carnival does not rate a mention on the Events NSW calendar of events for 2010.
Last year the five race days of the July Carnival generated more than $10 million in TAB turnover, a generous figure that was down on previous years due to the economic downturn. In 2006 punters splurged more than $22 million with bookies and on the tote.
Staff at Events NSW said they have never received a request from Grafton to have the carnival listed among the events promoted around NSW.
The Clarence River Jockey Club (CRJC) returned the favour with club CEO Bradley De Martino Rosaroll not aware that a body called Events NSW even existed.
The only North Coast event on the calendar is the Byron Bay Blues Festival. Neither Grafton’s Jacaranda Festival, nor Maclean’s Highland Gathering get a guernsey.
Since November it has been possible for organisations to have their events included on a calendar, but in a bizarre twist, this facility is located on a website called Events Sydney.
When questioned why anyone from outside Sydney would look at a site called Events Sydney to advertise regional events, a staff member agreed it was strange, but said the facility was in its early days.
“That might be something we will have a look at,” she said.
Events NSW began operations in 2007.
Its ‘report card’ for 2009 claimed that events it promoted injected more than half a billion dollars into the NSW economy.
The most successful event outside Sydney and ranked third overall in ‘economic benefit to the State’ was the Tamworth Country Music Festival, which generated $18 million.
In 2010 one of Grafton’s rivals in the racing calendar, the Albury Gold Cup features on the master calendar, claiming it is Australia’s largest and fastest growing country race carnival.
It’s a description that does not sit well with Mr De Martino Rosaroll, who while full of praise for the work Albury has done to build its carnival, said the description of Albury’s event as a ‘carnival’ was misleading.
“Their Gold Cup Day is a big event, with attendances of more than 20,000 but their second day is nothing,” he said.
“That’s why they won the Racing NSW Race Day of the Year Award.
“Grafton’s is the biggest country carnival in NSW by far.
“We have attendances on the two main days of 20,000-plus.”
The continued success of the July Carnival in attracting big crowds and generating betting turnover has Mr De Martino Rosaroll confident the carnival has survived the shock of the downgrading of the Grafton Cup from Group Three to a Listed race.
“Since it happened there has been no impact on crowds or betting turnover,” he said.
“It’s more a reflection of the downgrading of staying races in Australia as the racing industry is more geared to sprinters and two-year-old and three-year-old racing.”
He said the CRJC works closely with the Clarence Valley Council to promote the carnival and is happy with the support the club receives from local businesses.
“On a State level there has been no support for the July Carnival,” he said.
“There’s a stigma about the racing industry that it does not need any financial help, but this is not true.
“Like most industries we need help to enable use to get our message across to the public.”
Mr De Martino Rosaroll said the CRJC will investigate how it can get the July Carnival onto the Events NSW website and any other benefits that are on offer.