Ben Looker wins the 2019 Grafton Cup aboard Sacred Day.
Ben Looker wins the 2019 Grafton Cup aboard Sacred Day.

Beattie hopeful for crowds at July Carnival

GRAFTON’S Clarence River Jockey Club is preparing for today’s Ulmarra Cup Day without crowds again but is hopeful that might change soon as restrictions surrounding the coronavirus pandemic relax.

It could lead to CRJC’s Tooheys XXXX Gold July Racing Carnival having crowds if restrictions are eased.

That carnival is worth a record $1.47 million this year.

In Sydney, owners of horses running at Saturday’s Randwick meeting will be ­allowed to attend if they ­pre-register with the Australian Turf Club.

It means Northern Rivers trainers, such as Matt Dunn and Paul Smith, who have starters at Randwick, will be able to attend with their owners.

Dunn starts Ramornie Handicap hopeful Snitz on Saturday and Smith has Lolly Dolly in a Highway Handicap.

All owners of horses at Saturday’s Randwick meeting will be invited to attend under strict NSW Government Public Health Orders, which outline new protocols and procedures at Sydney racecourses.

Owners who have an ­accepted runner on Saturday will receive an email with instructions on how to book a ticket.

CRJC chief executive ­Michael Beattie is hopeful that move might filter down to country clubs such as his, however he does know Saturday’s Randwick meeting is “very much a one-off”.

“The way I understand it, the Government will make a determination after Saturday on how well the ATC handle it,” Mr Beattie said.

Just how well it works might determine further changes.

As far as Saturday’s Ulmarra Cup meeting goes, it will be par for the course for CRJC, with all coronavirus restrictions in full cry.

In more good news, the prizemoney for country clubs will return to pre-COVID levels – that is, normal country TAB races will return to $22,000 from their current $20,000.

It means the GDSC Ramornie Handicap will be worth $200,000, as will the Grafton Cup, for a carnival Mr Beattie says will offer record prizemoney of “almost $1.5 million”.

Meanwhile, the Northern Rivers Racing Association has a busy period following the Ulmarra Cup meeting at Grafton.

Ballina Jockey Club then stages a seven-race TAB meeting on Monday while Lismore Turf Club has a seven-race TAB meeting next Thursday.

The Ballina meeting had 68 acceptors with the feature race being the $20,000 The Mission @ Aquis Farm Open Handicap (1000m).

Three last start winners are engaged at Ballina, the John Shelton-trained Jules Spirit, Stephen Lee’s Alatora and Jim Jarvis’ Bolghari.

Nominations for next Thursday’s seven-race LTC meeting close 11am Friday.

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