Clarence River Jockey Club (CRJC) Executive Officer Michael Beattie has declared the 2021 July Racing Carnival “surpassed expectations in just about every aspect.”
Despite new Covid-19 restrictions being introduced less than 24 hours before the event began, resulting in the CRJC managing five race days at 50 percent capacity, Mr Beattie said crowd participation was strong and he was pleased the majority of racegoers happily complied with the enforced rules and regulations.
More than 7000 people attended the carnival with the largest crowds heading trackside to watch the Grafton District Services Club Ramornie Handicap and Maclean Hotel Grafton Cup on July 7 and 8 respectively.
Describing the crowd numbers as fantastic given the circumstances, Mr Beattie said one of the most pleasing observations in the ever-changing environment was the ability of his key staff members to cope with the sudden implementation of new restrictions and ensure they were effectively managed and adhered to.
“We have great staff at the course,” Mr Beattie said proudly.
“Our permanent and casual employees, our gate staff and cleaners were all brilliant this year and they did a fantastic job which enabled us (CRJC) to manage the carnival well.”
Mr Beattie said while the participation from major stables, especially ones in Sydney, was always going to be tricky with the whole of Greater Sydney in lockdown and staff and key personnel incurring travel restrictions, he was still pleased a number of leading metropolitan trainers entered horses in the 2021 July Racing Carnival.
Mr Beattie also acknowledged the 2021 Trainer of the Carnival, Gold Coast based Michael Costa, who won the Grafton Cup this year with his talented staying mare Purrfect Deal, and narrowly missed claiming the Ramornie with his star sprinter Phobetor.
“It was great to see Michael have such a good carnival and he supports our club at a lot of race meetings through the year,” he said.
Northern Rivers trainers Matthew Dunn from Murwillumbah and Stephen Lee from Ballina finished second and third in the 2021 Trainer of the Carnival rankings while Grafton trainer Greg Kilner was the most successful hometown trainer, narrowly beating John Shelton who won his first Sir James Kirby Handicap with Jule’s Spirit.
Andrew Mallyon won the 2021 Jockey of the Carnival title from Ashley Morgan after riding four winners on the final day of racing, including two trained by Costa.
“Andrew and Ashley were very aware of each other and their placings in the 2021 Jockey of the Carnival and it came down to the last race of the carnival,” Mr Beattie said.
“They’re great riders, great competitors and it was great to see them have a lot of success during the carnival this year.”
Mr Beattie thanked everyone for their involvement and support of the carnival this year said the CRJC is already looking forward to the 2022 July Racing Carnival.