The Coonabarabran Jockey Club committee was facing a tough decision on Saturday evening, with inclement weather threatening the annual Coona Cup race meet. Thankfully, the committee chose to proceed with the event on Monday, 24 October - a brave move rewarded with ideal racing conditions.
More than 300 millimetres of rain has been recorded at the Coonabarabran Racecourse during September and October, including 50mm in the past week.
Considering the wet weather leading up to the event, Jockey Club president, Stewart Rodgers, said he was delighted the races went ahead as planned.
“I must admit, it was a very close call,” Mr Rodgers said.
“It would have been too wet on Sunday to hold the races, but by Monday things had dried out a bit and it was suitable.
“We would have been really disappointed if we had cancelled it, when we could have been racing.”
Although the forecast weather kept some visitors away, the 2016 Coona Cup was a great success.
Close to 1400 race-goers turned out for a full eight- race program.
There was one local winner, with trainer, Wayne Martyn, taking out race two with Zupaflirt.
Brett Bowman’s Topmast, and Wayne Martyn and Robert Mathews’ Doctor Oh, both contested the Coona Cup, but neither placed.
Brilliant Poet, trained by Leon Davies in Tamworth, took out the Cup, ridden by apprentice jockey, Kaylee Kirkwood.
One of Brilliant Poet’s part-owners, Earla Rayner, is a former Coonabarabran resident.
Mr Rodgers said trainers and jockeys were highly complimentary of the track.
“We started off as a heavy, grade-eight track, but moved to a soft six during the day, which is good,” he said.
“Punters were very happy at the end of the day because favourites took out the last two races, the bookies not so much.”
This year’s Fashions in the Field was given a revamp, with the competition taken out of the saddling enclosure and onto a stage in a different location at the racecourse.
It proved to be a hit with the crowd, who were afforded a better view of the nominees.
Judges, Sherida Parker, from Grafton, and Mary Browne, from Gunnedah, were impressed with the local fashions, selecting William Weatherall and Klancy Owers as Tots on Turf, and Dee Michael, with Lee Harper, from Sydney, as Lady and Gent of Style.
Nicola Brookhouse took out the highly coveted Filly on the Field for her floral- themed look, while Lane Hawkins, from Baradine, was named Colt on the Course, for his polished dark blue ensemble.
In the Silver Selection, regular fashion winner, Jill Fields, from Newcastle, claimed another sash for her extensive collection, and John Hutton, from Neilrex, won the men’s section.
The next item on the Jockey Club’s program will be the Summer Race Meet, a community fund-raiser, to be held on Saturday, 18 February 2017.
Coonabarabran Jockey Club president, Stewart Rodgers, secretary, Erin Player, Coona Cup winner and Brilliant Poet part-owner, Earla Rayner, jockey, Kaylee Kirkwood, Coonabarabran Bowling Club manager, Melissa Meyers, and director, Troy Brown. Photo - Janian McMillan (www.racingphotography.com.au).