It’s a wrap on Goulburn’s largest annual sporting day which attracted a 3,000 strong crowd on Saturday and while ‘Girls Day Out’ is an obvious success for the Goulburn Race Club, every other day the club is going about its business contributing to an industry worth $6.3 billion to Australia’s economy.
In the Southern Inland where the Goulburn racetrack is one of the major facilities, around $70.3 million is generated in the production of goods and services. The track opened at its current site in 1999 and continues to grow as a premier regional location for metropolitan and outer rim trainers.
“We have 20 races a year and we are getting more and more interest from Sydney, Newcastle, and Wollongong,” Goulburn Race Club CEO Robyn Fife said.
“Our track is known as a very fair track; it’s wide open, long and straight and has a good reputation for training young horses. Our proximity is a drawcard. We’re within 1-2 hours of Sydney, Kembla Grange and Canberra. Trainers can also travel to Wagga and Bathurst.”
Hosting 100 stables onsite, the club has plans to expand stabling in the future and is upgrading irrigation systems to keep its track in top condition.
Last financial year the club employed a permanent and casual staff of 70. Fifty trainers use the facility each week and each race meeting generates direct and flow on spending to the Goulburn and district economy.
“Girls Day Out is the biggest sporting event in Goulburn and the local economy benefits. We also had five bucks parties, early Christmas parties and an 18th birthday celebrated on the day. I think what draws the crowds is the comradery of the day. You don’t have to bet or overindulge, you can enjoy the company of friends and watch our beautiful animals,” Robyn said.
“Girls Day Out also raised $20,000 for charity.”
The club has long been the training ground for jockeys, as well as trainers who are achieving on the national stage. Cathy O’Hara, who was born in Goulburn and is a regular at the racetrack, got her first Melbourne Cup ride this year.
“Cathy rode in the Melbourne Cup on the 7 November but a few days beforehand rode at our ‘Kids Day Out’ race meeting on 5 November. Not many jockeys would have done that and it shows her loyalty to Goulburn,” Robyn said.
“And our trainers are doing well. Danny Williams has won the last five TAB Highway Series in Sydney and was a finalist in the Country Championships where Goulburn was selected to host one of the heats.”
More than 55% of the racing industry’s contribution to the NSW economy is generated in the regions, driven by thoroughbred racing (57%). Outbreaks of the Equine Influenza virus which decimated the industry in 2007, and cost an estimated $4.6 million per day in forgone income for racing, farming and recreational businesses, are a sobering reality.
“We saw the impact of Equine Influenza on many businesses and horse racing from transportation, agriculture and feed production, veterinarians, riders…racing is a bigger industry than most people think,” Robyn said.
However the industry is more than the economic generation, it’s also about community and that sense of comradery is particularly evident at country tracks.
“People make that comment when they come from the city,” Robyn said. “They don’t have to stand in long queues but can enjoy an up-to-date facility and country crowds.”
The race club is currently preparing for its Goulburn Cup later this month – the City has a long history of horse racing dating from 1838 when it is believed racing was held by police troopers, and the first Goulburn Cup was held in 1883.
Today the club looks to the future with a strategic plan that aims to attract more young people to racing, and provision for continual upgrading and maintenance of facilities.
“We’re interested in getting more people to the races and capitalising on the interest in our race days from Canberra, the Southern Highlands and Wollongong. It’s a beautiful facility here, and we also want to grow the venue for weddings and corporate events,” Robyn said.
Goulburn Race Club was incorporated in 1989 and is managed by a board of directors. Robyn has been with the club since 1999. Variety is what keeps her in the job.
“No one race day is the same and it’s never boring. There is always something new happening here.”
You can find out more about the club and its racing facilities here, including upcoming events before Christmas.