Harness racing has officially run its last race at Bulli Showground, ending more than 60 years of racing at the charismatic Slacky Flat circuit.
Bulli Harness Racing Club president David Wonson snr confirmed the club will exclusively race at Menangle, the headquarters of the NSW Harness Racing Club.
Bulli Showground has only been used as a part-time venue to host the club’s feature Linden Huntley Little Memorial series for two-year-olds and holiday meetings in recent years.
Regular Monday afternoon timeslots were transferred to the super circuit at south-western Sydney in 2008.
“We were never going to be immune to progress and rationalisation,” Wonson said.
“Economically and business-wise we had to make the decision to go. We just couldn’t facilitate the place for the amount of money we had to spend for two meetings [per year]. It was just impossible for us to do it. There’s been some great memories here over 60 years.”
Benefactor Lynette Philpott, whose contribution to the Linden Huntley carnival was described as “sensational” by Wonson , has propped up the series, but decided against renewing her involvement in 2013.
Wonson said the BHRC would further flourish financially from a permanent move to Menangle, staging heats of important feature race series to culminate on Inter Dominion grand final day on March 3 next year.
“There’s no loss of the Bulli Harness Racing Club – we keep our autonomy, we keep our identity and we’re featuring heats of the Pink Bonnet and the Rod Fitzpatrick Memorial,” Wonson said.
“We get a chance to showcase Bulli Harness Racing Club in the best possible light racing on the best track in the southern hemisphere for the best money.
“Under the stewardship of [NSWHRC chairman] Rex Horne and [chief executive officer] John Dumesny, they have embraced it and made our club financial, taking us along with them to ensure our future. Not only have they embraced the club, they’ve embraced our members and made them affiliate members over there.”
Plans are also afoot for the Bulli club to launch a headline two-year-old series for trotters at Menangle.
Longtime administrator John Crittenden has ensured the Keira High School students who have provided event management at Bulli’s traditional carnival won’t be lost to the industry.
The Austrain Academy intake has been placed in other enterprises as well as assisting at Menangle.
The tight-turning half-mile circuit at Bulli Showground will still be available for training purposes.
David Wonson snr. Picture: GREG TOTMAN
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