THERE’S still a fair few hurdles to overcome, but it’s something I’d like to see happen.
That was the statement from Harness Racing South Australia chairman Chris Hartwig when discussing the prospect of racing returning to Gawler.
In fact, Hartwig already has the ideal meeting for the Grand Opening in mind!
“Gawler Cup in 2019 would be the perfect way to welcome Gawler back to racing,” Hartwig said. “There’s still a fair few hurdles to overcome, but it’s something I’d like to see happen.
“Things such as infrastructure, be it the need for more stalls, a bar or better access via the road in and out, all have to be addressed.
“If those things, and others, were up to standard, I’d like to see racing there as soon as possible.”
Just to recap, the Gawler Harness Racing Club was forced to shut down and relocate by the government.
In June 2008 the club hosted its final meeting at its Weaver Road home before the government’s compulsory purchase of the land as part of its Northern Expressway works.
The closure ended more than four decades of racing on the property. Before that, the club hosted meetings at Gawler Oval and in a paddock in Willaston having been formed in 1937.
In perfect way to celebrate the club’s 80th year of operation, it opened the new venue with the first official trials yesterday.
Almost a decade after being forced into hiatus, the club is the proud owner of a 14-hectare site, which boasts a 959-metre track with a 12-and-a-half per cent camber.
“It’s been a long road back and a lot of hard work, but the club never gave up and never contemplated folding,” President Peter Bain said.
“The land was in shocking condition when we got it, it was just a mess. One day while mowing one of the paddocks we found a smashed glider.
“With the land formerly part of the air strip we found broken plane parts, cabling and a heap of junk, so a lot of work has gone into getting it to where we are.
“To have the trials back and the view of racing returning in the future, it’s a marvellous credit to the club’s committee and everybody who has helped and supported us along the way.
“Our local minister of Parliament, Tony Piccolo, came unannounced to view the trials and was impressed with what he saw.
“He’s been a good supporter of what the club is trying to achieve and said he will continue to support us as we progress.”
- PAUL COURTS