President of Murwillumbah Services Club Lindsay Howard-Smith with the horse Beauty Strike.
President of Murwillumbah Services Club Lindsay Howard-Smith with the horse Beauty Strike. Stephen Senise

Exciting start to the racing calendar in the Tweed

THE calendar year started in exciting fashion for the Tweed River Jockey Club.

First, with a successful January meeting followed by chairman Bernie Quinn being awarded an Order of Australia Medal (OAM) and Murwillumbah-based trainer Matt Dunn preparing the winner of Ballina's $55,000 Iris Nielsen Handicap with Epic Terra.

The momentum was brought to a halt by a washed-out February race meeting, and it seems the clouds are casting a creeping shadow over the club's big Murwillumbah Services Club Anzac Day meeting due Thursday.

"We have every reason to be upbeat, but it hasn't really stopped raining since February, and the recent floods haven't helped," jockey club secretary-manager Rachael Elliott told My Daily News.

Murwillumbah racecourse has received over 85mm in the past ten days, 152mm for the month of April to date, and 272mm for March.

While race meetings at Coffs Harbour, Doomben and the Gold Coast have been cancelled in the past week, Ms Elliott believes Murwillumbah should avoid being another casualty.

"We just need a tiny bit of sunshine.

"Our ground staff have worked phenomenally to put us in with a great shot at being right for Anzac Day, and whenever the sun has managed to shine a couple of days in a row, we've been right on target.

"We couldn't be happier with their efforts in aerating, tending and manicuring the racing surface, and the track is looking good - so we're optimistic and hopeful at the same time.

"When the stewards walked the track on Monday morning they were quite positive and keen to give us every chance , which is a very good sign.

"Anzac Day racing at Murwillumbah is a big day for the jockey club and for the Tweed community, so we're super keen to provide a great day's racing for everyone's enjoyment."

Free buses from the Murwillumbah Services Club will take patrons to the racecourse at 12.30pm and 1.00pm, returning at 5.00pm and 5.15pm. Returned service personnel enter the Anzac Day meeting free on presentation of their badge.

The five race program will feature the running of the Murwillumbah Services Club Cup, a Class 2 handicap over 1800m.