Record set at Kumara

By Brendon McMahon
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A total of 10,000 punters were drawn to the Kumara Races on Saturday, spending a record $400,000 on the horses.
Mild conditions prevailed throughout the relaxed 10-race meeting.
A broad mix of racing enthusiasts mingled with punters from afar for their annual fix of West Coast hospitality in a convivial atmosphere.
Kumara Racing Club secretary Colin Stevenson said just over $401,000 in bets were placed on course, “which is a record” and well up on the $350,000 put through the totes last year.
Exact numbers of punters through the gates had yet to come in, but a “ballpark” figure placed the crowd at somewhere near 10,000, Mr Stevenson said.
President Patrick Meates was elated at “a perfect day” — particularly record on-course betting and the large, friendly crowd.
“I think it’s a terrific achievement and, really, you’ve got to thank the public,” Mr Meates said.
Off-course betting tallied $800,000.
That and what people had spent on-course was a tangible sign of the faith punters had placed in a good field at Kumara, and track conditions were ideal on the day.
“The weather held — we didn’t get the wet. There were good fields, obviously, because people were betting,” Mr Meates.
The large team of club volunteers had worked hard to ensure a good meeting, and that was reflected in the relaxed family atmosphere prevalent in the crowd on Saturday, which went off with barely a hiccup, he said.
“I think the cloud cover earlier on helped. It wasn’t too hot — it kept everyone in a good mood. It couldn’t have been a more perfect day.”
Mr Meates said the success of the 2014 meeting would be hard to top.
The club had a short debrief yesterday while Saturday was still fresh in people’s minds.
Organisation of the day had been viewed as successful with on-course activities such as the Fashion in the Field and children’s fun races viewed positively.
Only minor changes were anticipated for 2015.
“It’s pretty hard to take a step up next year from this year — but there’s always little things you can do to make a difference,” Mr Meates said.
Good turnover on Saturday followed an overall profit of $77,000 following the 2013 meeting. It enabled the club to trade out of a precarious position left over from the disastrous 2012 meeting, following a postponed race day loss of $39,000, and an overall $92,000 loss for that year.
The 2013 meeting enabled the club to trade its way back into the black, repaying $88,000 of cash advances which had tided it over from 2012.
West Coast police said the public was well behaved.
Most appeared to have exercised common sense and there were no real problems on the roads after the races, West Coast police area commander Inspector John Canning said.
Police had several checkpoints out, as usual, with “very few” drivers failing alcohol tests, he said.