Bureaucracy catches up with GY races
Talk about bureaucracy. This year Glenorchy Race Day organisers had to apply for resource consent for the first time.
‘‘It’s pretty frustrating. When you’re getting a bit older you don’t like all these rules,’’ mutters chief organiser and Lakeside Rugby Club president Bruce Douglas.
It’s not the first time bureaucratic change has been thrust on the popular annual event, which has maintained the same format for its 55-year history, and lived by its own rules at the remote head of Lake Wakatipu.
Back in 2003 a reporter discovered the totalisator was being run without a licence and published the fact, drawing it to the attention of the Department of Internal Affairs.
‘‘We were pretty pissed off. We thought it would destroy our bloody races,’’ Douglas recalls.
There were threats to tar and feather the reporter, but ultimately the organisers had to accept that if the event was to continue it would have to change to a legal equalisator system where you can’t pick your own horse and odds are set.
Douglas says it did kill the big profits made by the club, all of which went back into the community, but it is still a great day out and plenty of money con- tinues to be spent.
For the small town, population 363 at the 2013 Census, it is the biggest day of the year and the largest fundraiser.
Up to 3500 people attend, with about 60 horses and riders.
Locals are the main beneficiaries, with organisations such as the First Response, fire brigade, swimming pool, school, museum, church and the skate board park getting large amounts of funding.
The ‘‘dozen-or-so’’ members of the rugby club look after it and run the event, but the club doesn’t really benefit. It is the only rugby club in New Zealand without a team - a fact now the subject of a Speights bottle top question.
The other significant year in the event’s history was 1994 - the only year the event was called off part way through due to flooding.
Gary McCormick just happened to be filming that year and then became stuck in the town after the road washed away, along with hundreds of other punters.
About ten days later the Earnslaw was sent down to shift people out.
Douglas says the organisers will be sticking with their usual formula on January 7.
Competitors in action during the 50th Anniversary Glenorchy Race meeting, 2012.