Good case for races to re­main


The Omakau Trots re­mained in­ci­dent free for a 53rd year af­ter po­lice made no ar­rests and no drink-drivers were caught.

The Jan­uary 2 event was un­der in­tense scru­tiny and or­gan­is­ers feared the iconic day might not take place af­ter po­lice op­posed an al­co­hol li­cence ap­pli­ca­tion from the Cen­tral Otago Trot­ting Club. One of the con­cerns was peo­ple bring­ing their own al­co­hol.

Po­lice even­tu­ally backed down, which meant thou­sands cast rugs, erected brol­lies, primed deck chairs and sipped beer and wine among fam­ily and friends.

A po­lice spokes­woman said no ar­rests were at­trib­uted to the 2017 event and there was noth­ing to in­di­cate any mo­torists were processed for drink-driv­ing.

Ja­son Stu­art, of Ta­panui, pic­nicked with his fam­ily and said he likely wouldn’t come with­out be­ing able to bring his own al­co­hol.

‘‘We wouldn’t be able to af­ford it,’’ he said.

Peter Ryan, of Alexan­dra, who had at­tended the races for years, said: ‘‘It’s a pic­nic day isn’t it? There’s never been any trou­ble in the past.’’

He said if he and his wife couldn’t bring a beer along, he pos­si­bly would not re­turn.

Trot­ting Club pres­i­dent Gra­ham Sin­na­mon said new rules were be­ing en­forced af­ter li­ais­ing with po­lice, in­clud­ing not ad­ver­tis­ing it was a BYO event and en­sur­ing bar pa­trons were kept sep­a­rate from BYO race-go­ers.

‘‘We’re try­ing to es­tab­lish a dif- fer­ence be­tween a non-BYO event and a BYO event,’’ Sin­na­mon said. ’’They’re quite dif­fer­ent. It’s some­thing that needs clar­i­fied at a Gov­ern­ment level.’’

The Trot­ting Club was still in dis­cus­sions with au­thor­i­ties about the ‘‘grey area’’ and whether the race day would con­tinue in the fu­ture, he said.

Otago Lakes-Cen­tral area com­man­der In­spec­tor Olaf Jensen was one of the of­fi­cers pa­trolling the event and said it was about prevent­ing ‘‘al­co­hol harm’’ and keep­ing peo­ple safe.

At a June hear­ing for two spe­cial li­cences to run two bars, Sergeant Jon Har­ris said: ‘‘There is one thing that is ab­so­lute – BYO does not fit on spe­cial li­cences.’’

At the hear­ing, po­lice ar­gued the race day breached the Sale and Sup­ply of Al­co­hol Act by us­ing an un­li­censed premises as a ‘‘Place of Re­sort’’.

In Septem­ber, Jensen said po­lice recog­nised the race meet­ing was im­por­tant for the com­mu­nity and po­lice backed down.

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