Harness racing halted

The 2021/22 Mount Gambier Harness Racing Club season was cut short due to lack of horses being available.

Since the Matthews Petroleum Mount Gambier Pacing Gold Cup at the start of April, only one of three further race meetings to complete summer were possible.

The last two on Friday, April 29 and last Friday were both cancelled due to an insufficient number of nominations.

This brought a premature end to the season of pacing and Mount Gambier Harness Racing Club president Simon Phillips said the call was made due to horses and trainers slowing their schedules after a busy period.

“What happens at this time of the year is the horses go out for spells anyway, especially after our gold cup and a lot of our local trainers do this,” he said.

“It is a catch 22 with Terang being closed which is closer to Melbourne than us, while meetings are running at Hamilton.

“The programming has been quite difficult at present and it is hard to squeeze everyone in and horses cannot run every day.”

Due to these factors Phillips said a decision was made to call the season with a focus on the upcoming summer in November.

“We will now look forward to getting going again in November,” he said.

“There are big plans for the club and we are in talks with Harness Racing SA in regards to how it looks for Mount Gambier with prize money and slotting in with those Western Victorian tracks better.

“We are programming or planning meetings spaced out so not clashing with other tracks.

“Victorian clubs need us as much as Mount Gambier need Victorian horses as well.

“There are no dual races are on the cards with Port Pirie again and we will have a stand-alone meetings.”

Phillips said the feedback from the racing community has been uplifting and supportive despite the disappointing call.

“It was all positive feedback and as a club we are happy,” he said.

“We have done a survey with all the local trainers in regards to how they see racing in Mount Gambier and there has been no negative feedback, it has all been positive.

“That has been really good and they all want to support us as much as they can.”

In a strong sign for the future, Phillips confirmed the club is still in a strong financial position despite the cancelled meetings.

“Financially the club is in a stable position,” he said.

“We do a lot of fundraising all year and have solid sponsors behind us.

“The club is not in any trouble at all.”

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