Australia Day race meeting moved to Forbes

UPGRADES: Parkes racetrack is currently undergoing major works which will see it classed as a premier country track. Pictured is Parkes Jockey Club president Mark Ross at the post.
UPGRADES: Parkes racetrack is currently undergoing major works which will see it classed as a premier country track. Pictured is Parkes Jockey Club president Mark Ross at the post.

Despite having to move the Parkes Jockey Club's annual Australia Day Race meeting to Forbes due to the toll the drought has taken on our track, it is currently undergoing a major upgrade which will see it classed as a premier country racetrack.

Thanks to the Parkes Shire Council's Recycled Water Scheme and a grant from Racing NSW, a new state-of-the-art watering system is being installed at the Parkes Racecourse.

President Mark Ross said the Parkes Jockey Club has endeavoured to have its watering system upgraded over the years with no luck.

"We had an ancient watering system with antique pipes which pumped grey water from the treatment ponds to our dam," Mark said.

"The sprinkler system had to be dragged around the track, it was a very slow, tedious process that was never effective."

The club hooked a low volume pump into the new scheme but the old pipes just couldn't handle it and they blew apart.

"We were then left with no option but to try and upgrade our watering system," Mark said.

"We have been in talks with NSW Racing for two years about upgrading, but other tracks were taking priority over us.

"When I told them we now have a guaranteed allocation from the recycled water scheme but no way of delivering it, they took notice and came to the party with a $270,000 watering system of which we have to pay 20 per cent."

The new watering system still presents a problem though as the funds only cover the laying of the pipe on the inside of the track.

"Because the home straight is so wide, the sprinklers won't reach across the entire width of it," Mark said.

"When the horses come around the bend and fan out on the straight, it will cause a disadvantage to those horses on the outside.

"So we have dipped into our reserves and put the watering system along the outside of the track along the straight and also at the chutes as well so no horses will be disadvantaged."

The extra work comes at a cost of $130,000 to the Parkes Jockey Club but they feel the investment is worth it.

"It will make the track a premier track," Mark said.

A new plastic inside running rail, due to be installed in March, will also help lift its profile.

"The old rail was aluminium which is no longer deemed to be safe," Mark said.

"Hopefully we will have our meetings upgraded and hopefully in the future get an extra TAB meeting or two, that's what we are aiming for."

Mark said all the extra expenditure will be worth it in the long run, however in the meantime the club has fallen victim to the drought.

"We haven't been able to water our track and keep it up to the standards we'd like and as a consequence we've lost our TAB Australia Day meeting this Saturday," he said.

"We put our hand up early and told NSW Racing we wouldn't be able to race and lobbied to keep it local and have it transferred to our sister club in Forbes."

The Parkes Jockey Club and their major sponsor, the Parkes Services Club are doing all they can to support the Forbes Jockey Club with the meeting.

The Parkes Services Club will run its courtesy bus to Forbes and back on Saturday and anybody is welcome to use the service.

It will leave the Parkes Services Club at 12pm and return after the last race, doing as many trips as needed.

If you are a member, show your badge at the gate and you will be admitted for free.

The Parkes Jockey Club will also sponsor a race on behalf of the Parkes Services Club.

Mark said the work at the Parkes racetrack should be finished in a few weeks time, weather permitting.

"We can start pumping water onto the track and getting it ready to be aerated, top dressed and reseeded," he said.

"It gives us plenty of time to get the track up to a top rate standard for our first meeting, the Parkes Gold Cup on Sunday, May 17.

"We are really grateful to council for hooking us up to the recycled water scheme and the support they have given us, without that we wouldn't have been able to secure the grant for the new watering system."

The Parkes Jockey Club wish to thank their sponsors Parkes Services Club, Brian Hogan Telescope Tyres, Bob Skinner Painting Services, D'Aquinos Super Cellars, Parkview Motel, Bugman Pest Control Services, Tony Miller and XXXX Gold for their ongoing support.

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