Gainsborough Lodge closes Coffs Harbour racing base
COFFS Harbour racing's loss is Queensland's gain after confirmation Gainsborough Lodge will close its operations in Howard St for a return to Toowoomba.
Melinda Richards, the daughter of the late Col Richards who owned the Gainsborough Lodge operation, has decided the move will go ahead.
Mr Richards died earlier in the year at the age of 84 and there were initial reports the family would continue to train horses locally.
Ironically, the switch to set up shop in Coffs was made in 2009 with Mr Richards opposed to the creation of the controversial cushion surface at his home track at Toowoomba.
Not long after arriving the deterioration of the Coffs racing surface curtailed the steady flow of winners that began building momentum under the direction of up-and-coming trainer Anthony Honess.
Top mare Lady Jesse won good races for the stable along with Around The Moon, Farewell Julia and Scorpion Prince.
When Toowoomba returned to grass surface, there was speculation of a return to the Sunshine State and now the wheel has turned full circle with Queensland trainer Tony Sears appointed to handle the transition.
Honess will continue to base himself in Coffs Harbour where he is preparing glamorous chestnut filly Get The Drift, tipped for a stellar career as she matures.
"Dad was planning to re-establish a presence in Toowoomba and I am following through on his wishes," Melinda Richards said.
Speaking before the announcement became public, Coffs Harbour Racing Club chief executive Russ Atkinson said he had no specific knowledge of the sale of the stables.
However, Mr Atkinson believed the massive renovations carried out on the racing surface would ensure the Gainsborough property remained valuable.
Since making that statement, the club had raced twice after heavy rain and the drainage work had responded magnificently.
"I don't think it will take long for tenants to fill the boxes," Mr Atkinson said.