Clouds gather over this year's Bowra Cup

The Bowraville Cup is the event the Nambucca Valley community looks forward to every year to frock up and get loose.

But COVID might just put a stop to the 'race that stops the valley', with the Nambucca River Jockey Club committee to meet next Tuesday to discuss its fate.

"The Bowra Cup is scheduled for September 19, but my best guess is it won't happen," club secretary Geoff Harris said.

Jan and Geoff Harris

Jan and Geoff Harris

With the pall of COVID hanging precariously over the state, there would likely be limits imposed on who could attend.

"I would think a maximum of 200 people would be allowed if we did go ahead, which would probably be restricted to ticketed members, horse owners, jockeys and trainers, which would obviously take away from the spirit of the event," he said.

"Basically the club has two functions - to give opportunities to new horses and fringe runners. But our primary aim is to provide a facility for the general public to come along and have a social day out, and for us to make enough money to continue to do so.

"I think it would make it financially unviable if we couldn't get the numbers through the door.

I sometimes sit here and wonder what it would look like running an event without a crowd here, and I always come back to 'well what for?'

Nambucca Rover Jockey Club secretary Geoff Harris

"Plus we'd have to have everyone seated, we'd need gated registers, and there'd have to be table service for alcoholic beverages, and management of the toilets to maintain social distancing.

"And as a small club we're resource-stretched, I don't think we'd have the personnel required to police all of that."

The small stature of the jockey rooms also poses another logistical problem to social distancing, and alternative facilities would need to be found.

"It would be a fair headache for us to go ahead," Geoff said.

The Bellingen Cup scheduled for the end of June was cancelled because the committee "knew it would be difficult to get it across the line", logistically speaking.

"And the committee was happy for that not to go ahead ... as was Racing NSW," Geoff said.

But the fate of the Bowra Cup is in limbo until next Tuesday's meeting. Geoff will then take the committee's decision to Racing NSW the next day.

Geoff said it would be lovely to still be able to hold both the Macksville Cup in November and the Phillip Hughes Memorial Race day on Boxing Day.

But regardless, the club is well-positioned to weather the scratching of both.

"Financially the club's very sound due to good previous management," he said.

"We can survive this, no problem."

But it's doubtful whether the Gunnedah boys or the Marn Golf crew will be able to survive the year without their beloved Bowra Cup.

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