Orange City Council has paid half of its $20,000 per-year funding agreement with the Orange Harness Racing Club despite the relocation of both scheduled Towac Park meetings due to drought.
In 2016, the council entered into a performance-based funding agreement, committing to two payments of $10,000 per calendar year, as long as the club holds a minimum of two events at Towac Park.
After receiving its first instalment on December 12 2019, the club was forced to relocate its February 2 and February 9 meets to Bathurst due to the lack of irrigation water available for the grass track.
While the club appealed for the second instalment to be honoured during Orange City Council's most recent meeting, president Frank McRae thinks the result is a fair one.
"The outcome's pretty good for us given the circumstances," McRae said.
"We're really fortunate we got our meetings out of the way before the virus hit hard, too. A lot of the smaller towns are now having to relocate their races to more central areas so spots like Forbes and Peak Hill will be struggling."
Even though the meets were held at Bathurst, the events were still officially conducted by the Orange Harness Racing Club and all of the agreements with council were honoured, except for the location.
"If we transfer, our club still gets to conduct the meets whereas the gallops would lose the meeting if they transferred," he said.
McRae says the club began to consider relocation in December last year as a prolonged run of dry weather was always going to jeopardise the summer events.
"The dams were bone dry and there wasn't much rain forecasted," he said.
"We had no water for irrigation and on a grass track, that's no good. Bathurst agreed to take the meetings."
Spirits are still high at McRae's club and he expects to come back with a boom in 2021.
"We'll be back bigger and better at Towac Park," he said.
"There's going to be a lot of other clubs doing it tougher than us right now. We're fortunate for the position we're in."
The scheduled dates for next year's events are February 7 and February 14.
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