NON PATRON DAY: Helen Hutton, Tex Burnham, Bronwyn Burnham and Manny Lodwick at Monto Races 2019. Picture: Felicity Ripper
NON PATRON DAY: Helen Hutton, Tex Burnham, Bronwyn Burnham and Manny Lodwick at Monto Races 2019. Picture: Felicity Ripper

Monto races takes huge financial blow due to virus

THERE’LL be one noticeable difference on Monto’s annual race day this year, being a historical first the club.

There will be no patrons in the stands.

Slated for March 28, the race day has been declared patron free in light of the recent coronavirus (COVID-19) pandemic.

It will be the first time in its 92 year history where there’ll be no punters lining the rails, barracking on their sure thing.

Monto Race Club secretary Kerri Williams said this will have major affects on the club, but they have an obligation to keep racing.

“We’ve fought long and hard to keep country racing going,” Mrs Williams said.

“But we need to look after our country stakeholders.”

Five races will be going ahead on the day starting from 12.30pm, with only a select few allowed on the racecourse on that day.

Trainers, jockeys, registered stable hands, Racing Queensland staff, judges, photo finish operators, veterinarians, and paramedics are some of the select few allowed to attend.

Mrs Williams said even on the day, those in attendance have strict guidelines they must follow to ensure perfect hygiene is being observed.

“We’ll have people on the gate on the day as well, checking everyone that enters to make sure they’re on the list.

“There won’t even be any bookmakers, or horse owners either.”

Videos will be posted to their Facebook page immediately after each race, to provide those at home with a bit of entertainment.

Running once every year, she believes the financial impact on the club could be up to $12,000.

“We lucky to be racing at all.”

Despite the bleak circumstances, she is blown away by the support from her committee and her community.

“Our committee has got to be the best little committee … and they’ve fought so hard over the years to keep country racing alive.

“You’d have to go a long way to find volunteers as good as ours.”

Even their local sponsors have stayed on board for their non-patron day, with them being able to value add to the prize money on race day.

“One of our fashion sponsors has even advised us to keep their money as a donation to the club.”

With Monto being the final of the North Burnett’s Fashions on the Field, race clubs are still in discussion on what their next step will be.

Their scheduled calcutta night will still be going ahead at the Grand Hotel on March 27, picking horses for their prestigious Gordon and Ken Russell Memorial Race.



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