Races providing much-needed ‘outlet’ for farmers scratched as drought threatens regional NSW

Australia World

NSW Racing has cancelled two country race meetings due to safety concerns over dry tracks, angering a community struggling with the looming prospect of drought.

Northern New South Wales town Come By Chance was due to hold their race meet this weekend, but the club found itself in a pickle when Racing NSW deemed their course unsafe due to surface cracking.

Cathie Colless, the secretary of Come By Chance Picnic Race Club, she said it was a “a pretty poor” decision.

She said Racing NSW ought to have more faith in the club’s ability to prepare the tracks properly.

“With or without Racing NSW, the safety of the jockeys and the horses is utmost and has been for the 76 years we’ve been running,” she said.

Ms Colless said a jockey did died at the track in 1946, but given the length of time the club had been running, its safety record was good.

A small gathering under the finishing post at country racing club

Locals at the Come By Chance Picnic Race Club have been left without official races.(Supplied: Come By Chance Picnic Race Club)

‘Dash for Cash’ fundraiser

While the official races have been moved to Cobar, Come By Chance are still holding a stock horse “Dash for Cash” on Saturday, as a fundraiser and a way of raising morale in difficult times.

“Races are a wonderful outlet for our farmers,” Ms Colless said.

“They get together … they get off their home paddocks, and they’re doing something for someone else and that culminates in a great day at the races.”

Farmers are are worried about the lack of rain across many parts of the state, with the NSW crop forecast down 40 per cent and livestock prices falling dramatically everywhere.

Ms Colless said it was looking grim in her area.

“No crops and very dry,” she said.

Earlier this month, the Bureau of Meteorology said August rainfall was “below or very much below average” for most of New South Wales.

It comes after the state’s warmest winter on record.

Race day dancing at Come By Chance Picnic Race Club

Come By Chance will still hold a stock horse “Dash for Cash”, novelty races and Fashion in the Fields.(Supplied: Come By Chance Picnic Race Club)

Get to the races this weekend

Cobar Miners Race Club president Jarrod Marsden said locals should still support the event at Come By Chance, despite the meet moving to Cobar.

Gates open at 11am and there will be novelty races, a working dog jumping competition and Fashion in the Fields.

“They’ve certainly still got plenty going on up there and people who were heading to Come By Chance should keep going,” he said.

Registrations for the official events running at Cobar have dropped off with the change of location, but there are still 30 in the field.

A big crowd stand under the tower and along the fence at Cobar track.

Race meets in country areas are a crucial part of the towns social calendar.(Supplied: Cobar Miners Race Club)

Come By Chance is not the only race event cancelled recently.

The Geurie races were due to be held on September 16, but a ruling from Racing NSW over dry conditions forced the committee to make alternative plans for the day.

Meantime, a burst pipe near the track at the Narromine Turf Club on September 19 saw the annual event move to Dubbo just hours before commencement.

Racing NSW declined to comment.

Horse race to the finish line at Cobar

The Come By Chance race events have been moved to Cobar four hours away.(Supplied: Come By Chance Picnic Race Club)