Horses for course
NEW Clarence River Jockey Club CEO Michael Beattie believes he has the medicine that can restore Grafton's July Racing carnival to robust health.
Beattie, who is completing the final months of his role with the Macau Jockey Club before taking up his post at the CRJC in December, is convinced he has ways to attract quality horses for the iconic race.
"The quantity and quality of the field for the last Grafton Cup was disappointing," he said.
"What we've got to do is identify horses suited to Grafton and go after them to get them here.
"You could look at horses racing in Caloundra not quite at the end of their preparation and there would be one or two of the better staying horses in Sydney who would be prepared to have a crack.
"And it would not be out of the question to entice a horse out of Melbourne. Their tracks at that time of the year are always rain affected.
"We've got to be proactive, however, and go out and get these horses."
Beattie, who left Grafton in 1985 for Newcastle, said he was glad to get the opportunity to return to the region.
"I'm excited to be coming back. Grafton racing has been close to my heart," he said.
"It's the perfect opportunity for me to come back to Grafton with the 100th running of the Grafton Cup next year. That really means something to me."
Determined to make the 100th staging of the Grafton Cup a memorable one, Beattie said he will have to get cracking from day one in the job.
"People might think I'm taking over in December and the Cup's in July but to have a successful July you must start in January," he said.
While determined to improve the Carnival's national reputation, Beattie also said he will be working closely with his staff to look at how he can make the Grafton Cup essential for Graftonians.
"I will be talking with the staff here to see what they think will get Grafton people coming back to the Cup," he said.