ORANGE Harness Racing Club president Frank McRae is confident Bathurst’s new multi-million dollar harness racing complex won’t spell the end of trotting at Orange’s track at Highlands Paceway.
Work on the Bathurst Harness Racing Club’s $7.5 million complex is set to begin before the end of the year.
The Vale Road-based project is expected to reach completion by this time next year and will secure Bathurst’s place as the trotting capital of Western Districts.
But what does it mean for tinier, boutique tracks like Highlands Paceway?
Rather than the end, Mr McRae believes it signals the beginning of an exciting new era.
“I’d like to think we’ve got a future,” he said.
“We’re pretty confident. We’ve elected a new committee and we’ve been able to pick up an additional meeting for 2013.
“Probably for the most part it’s not going to have too great an impact on Orange but certainly Bathurst is the centre of Western Districts at the moment with its horse population and trainers. In the future all major racing will be there.”
Orange will have three meetings in 2013.
That’s already a 50 per cent increase on what was initially scheduled for the club.
It will run two TAB meetings before hosting a non-TAB meeting on Inter-dominion Day in March.
Mr McRae was optimistic about the club’s ability to build on three meetings, following Orange City’s Council’s and mayor John Davis’ backing of the club a month ago in the Central Western Daily.
They’ll build with the help of the BHRC, too.
“I guess Orange can see it as a chance to feed off Bathurst,” he said.
“The Orange Harness Racing Club receives strong support from the Bathurst Harness Racing Club in general. I think there is going to be a flow on to other tracks around Bathurst.”
The new Bathurst track will be 1000 metres long, up from 800m at the current track at the Bathurst Showground.
The kilometre-long track at Bathurst’s new complex will enable Western District trainers to better acclimatise horses to conditions on big tracks, akin to the state’s premier facility at Menangle.
The track at Orange is just 715m.
“There’s still a place for small tracks,” Mr McRae said.
“Some horses aren’t competitive on the larger tracks. We’ve got three meetings in 2013 in a block in February, March. It’s now up to us to show we can run a good meeting, a successful meeting.
“[Harness Racing NSW] is not going to give us a massive number of meetings. We just have to do the three we’ve been allocated well.”