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Punters hope Stratford race day not the last

Club president John Gray, who also manages a TAB in New Plymouth. - Photo: RNZ / Robin Martin

Punters in the small Taranaki town of Stratford are hoping today's race meeting will not be the last to be held there.

Stratford is one of two clubs in Taranaki identified in an independent report given to Racing Minister Winston Peters, which recommends 20 courses nationwide put the shutters up.

Stratford Racing Club president John Gray said it would be heartbreaking if they were not able to hold any more races at Te Kapua Race Course.

He said the event was one of the biggest fixtures on the town's social calendar.

"If you want to say the Melbourne Cup stops a nation, Stratford Race Day stops our little town.

"Something that everyone gets involved in and looks forward to.

"A lot of people meet up that haven't seen each other over the years. Last year we had about 4500 people on [the] course."

Mr Gray said there was a lot of excitement on race day.

"There's usually a lot of racegoers that are finding a place on the lawn to enjoy watching the racing.

"We usually have pretty strong fields. It's a great course to watch racing from. Probably somewhat different than those bigger courses.

"It's just got that real deep country feel, which is quite unique to little places like Stratford."

If all 20 clubs did not have their racecourse licences renewed, Stratford would shut next season and Hawera would wind up in 2022-2023.


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