KEY stakeholders of the XXXX Gold July Racing Carnival have been thrilled with the success of the 2017 event so far, with some small tweaks to the program well received by carnival-goers.
This year Grafton District Services Club decided to only hold one calcutta night for the Ramornie Handicap, instead of the usual two; doing away with the Grafton Cup Calcutta.
The move proved a masterstroke for the club, who this year came on board as naming rights sponsor of the Ramornie for the next three years, with Tuesday night's auction fetching a pool of $38,320, of which 10% was donated to the GDSC Pipe Band, Salvation Army Grafton and Grafton RSL Sub-Branch.
GDSC chief executive officer Garry Williams believed it was the highest amount he had seen raised since joining the club in 1988.
"We changed the structure a little bit, partly to get away from State of Origin, and also as sponsors of the Ramornie we wanted to concentrate on our race and build it up," Mr Williams said.
"It was a great crowd and a tremendous increase on the Ramornie."
A syndicate paid $5200 for the winner, Calanda, and collected $22,992 for the win.
"It was a tremendous win by Calanda," Mr Williams said. "It was a very well weighted horse in the race.
"Talking to (trainer) Paul (Snowden) afterwards, they had the race picked out on that weight scale. They know how to place their horses."
At the track, GDSC members had free entry for Ramornie Day on Wednesday.
"It was well received and I think it will build on everybody," Mr Williams said.
In the second of a six-year deal as naming rights of Clarence River Jockey Club's flagship event, Lion sales executive for Grafton, Mark Sing, said the carnival's success of was a great reward for all who have worked behind the scenes to make it happen.
The carnival is Lion's biggest annual marketing event in the north of the state., according to Mr Sing.
"It's been a great carnival so far," Mr Sing said.
"We've been really happy with the attendance at the race club.
"XXXX and Grafton have been synonymous for a long time, from way back in the days we had the Tooheys brewery here in town," Mr Sing said. "With the Grafton Cup being the showcase of Country NSW racing, we're really happy to be a part of the sponsorship for the whole carnival.
"Full kudos to everyone who makes it come together, not only from my team and the CRJC but a number of venues within the Grafton area who have really helped to promote it overall.
"It's a really easy community to work with because everyone's really happy to get behind the racing carnival."