CRJC veterans still loving it after more than 30 years
BETWEEN them, Clarence River Jockey Club directors Brian Ferrie and John Kenny have attended nearly 80 Grafton Cup days as committee members and they're still enjoying every minute.
Mr Kenny has been a director for 45 years after serving as an honorary judge at the course for years before that.
"When I joined the committee, they started to pay the judges at the track, so you could say I missed out there," he said.
Mr Ferrie, from Maclean, joined the committee in the mid-1980s when the CRJC decided to add the Maclean Cup into what was then a two-week racing carnival.
"It was one of the most popular things we've done," he said. "We added in other club racing events from outlying places like Iluka and Wooli through the year.
"It was really good when those races were on Saturdays," he said. "They made a real picnic atmosphere of it."
Both senior directors have mixed feelings about the changes in racing which occurred as the TAB gained prominence.
"The July Carnival used to be what got the jockey club through the year," Mr Kenny said.
"You had a good July with big crowds and you had a good year.
"Now with the TAB funding, the crowds are not so important. You have your race meetings and the TAB money comes."
But Mr Kenny said the jockey club still has pressure on it to turn on a good carnival.
"The club has to go to the council every year and show show how the carnival is going to benefit the town and bring people into the place," Mr Kenny said.
Mr Ferrie praised current CRJC executive officer, Michael Beattie.
"Even though he's from here, he's been away and has brought all that experience back here," he said.
"He said he would build the quality of racing up at the club and that's exactly what he's done."