Change of heart means Bowra Cup will still run

Change of heart means Bowra Cup will still run

Most in the Nambucca River Jockey Club committee went into Tuesday's meeting with a grim view over the fate of this year's Bowra Cup. But the unexpected happened.

Today the club has revealed that after a long deliberation, the Bowraville Cup will run on September 19 as planned ... albeit without the general public.

When club secretary Geoff Harris spoke to Guardian News last Friday, he said his best guess would be that the 2020 Cup would be canned.

"I just couldn't visualise running the race day without the usual crowd of people," he said.

"But I've always tried not to have a closed mind, and over the weekend I had a rethink."

And his new-found can-do attitude helped inspire the remaining members that it was still possible to keep a Nambucca Valley tradition alive even in the middle of a pandemic.

The committee formulated a strategy to restrict entry to ticketed members, horse owners and trainers only - with an estimate of about 200 people in attendance.

There'll likely be no Fashions On The Field this year

There'll likely be no Fashions On The Field this year

The limit on patrons would allow the club to manage Racing NSW's CovidSafe protocols and adhere to social distancing rules, which includes table service for drinks.

"It's probably going to be disappointing news for locals. We'd love to have everyone there. But that's just not possible under the conditions in place," Geoff said.

So we had to strike a balance between preserving our history by keeping the continuity of the event, and doing the right thing to protect people's health.

Stewards from the Northern Rivers Jockey Association visited the racecourse yesterday to inspect the jockey quarters, and were suitably impressed that there was enough space for people to keep the required distance from one another.

One of the main motivators for the committee's about face on Tuesday was a desire to hold on to the current scheduling for the event.

"We want to save the date - that date suits us for a number of reasons, but there are other clubs who want it and have asked to swap with us," Geoff said

"We were worried that if we let it go we might not get it back. It's our main event. And we want to protect it as much as possible."

And with the Cup being a TAB meeting, with punters from all over able to have a bet on the seven races, Racing NSW were more than happy to support the committee to hold the event as scheduled.

"And I came away from my meeting with Racing NSW this morning, feeling contented and happy that we could actually do this," Geoff said.

Of course, there is the risk that the club might lose money running the race day without the numbers it usually attracts.

"We could well do. Usually this race day is the most profitable event for our club, but that won't be the case this year," Geoff said.

"But because we are in a good financial position, the committee thought we could absorb the costs."

And, of course, there's the potential that things could change again - who knows what tomorrow brings in this new COVID-furrowed landscape.

"But in spite of all that, right now we're looking forward to running a successful race day," Geoff said.

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