Races run at a loss
Future meetings now in doubt
The future of Pirongia’s Boxing Day race meeting is in serious jeopardy after a disappointing crowd of only 1500 paid at the gate on December 26.
Alexandra Racing Club secretary, Charlie Coles reports that the meeting ran at a financial loss which affects the future of the day.
“We simply can’t keep going and lose money,” he said.
“Numbers attending have gone down rapidly in recent years making it hard to pay for things as our only real income is at the gate.
“There is no one particular reason for the dwindling crowd numbers.”
Coles said lifestyles have changed.
“People didn’t travel away as much in years gone by. Now you see kayaks on the roof of vehicles and bikes on the back, there are so many other activities to do. Boxing Day sales don’t help, neither did last year’s meeting being cancelled at the last minute.
“Four years ago we drew even thanks to grants but they appear no longer available for events like ours. The grants kept us afloat for a number of years, balancing the books on the day.”
Coles said expenses have rapidly increased.
“Some people ask what we spend our money on.
“Major costs are the traffic plan and control on the day (the road is now a state highway), gate and crowd security to cope with the alcohol licensing laws, advertising in various forms, the sound system, ambulance attendance, waste disposal, portable toilets, Armourguard Money Security and printing of the tote tickets and race book.
“The club has had great financial support from the business world and various individuals over a long period of time.
“We’ve also had support from local clubs and the school which have worked on the day in return for a donation.”
Coles said those who attended the latest meeting would have enjoyed themselves.
“It was a very relaxing atmosphere with lot smaller crowd queues for race tickets, refreshments and kids’ rides and entertainment out the back of the course.”
A meeting next month will decide the fate of the Boxing Day races at Pirongia.
Coles said a switch from Boxing Day (because of so many counter-attractions) to another date is a possibility but he doesn’t hold his breath on that change.
Te Kawa Young Farmers again brought a truck load of members to the race meeting.
“We’ve been coming for at least 10 years, so we are sad to hear that the meeting could be canned,” said Jason Inness of Te Awamutu. “It’s the fourth year I’ve brought my (Freightliner) truck so us members can set up camp for the day.
“Five years ago I brought along one of John Austin’s truck and trailers.”
Te Kawa Young Farmers have a membership of 60 of which 20 were at the races.
Successful ‘punter’ Caitlin Seager was also sorry to hear it could be the last Boxing Day race meeting at Pirongia.
“That is a real shame. It’s always a great day out and I’ve been lucky enough this year to have the winning tickets in each of the first three races,” she said.
It is now a case of what will be, will be as far as the future of the meeting, founded in 1866, goes.
‘People didn’t travel away as much in years gone by, now you see kayaks on the roof of vehicles and bikes on the back, there are so many other activities to ’ do.
Keep on trucking: Te Kawa Young Farmers again turned out in force for the Boxing Day Races at Pirongia.