In normal times, anyone in Manilla remotely interested in thoroughbred racing would be making a beeline to Barraba for this weekendís annual cup meeting.
But itís not on – the 75th anniversary meeting has been canned for 2020, thank you very much to Mr COVID 19.
Barraba Jockey Club president of 25 years Leon Cummins said that postponing the celebratory meeting until next year was the only decision his committee could have made ñ ìat least we have another 12 months to make the celebrations bigger and betterî, he said.
There ís no way we could have had an enjoyable day of racing if weíd gone ahead. Thereís just too many rules and restrictions that need to be followed.
Restrictions kick off with a limit of 500 people on course, that num- ber to include trainers, jockeys, strappers, committee members and of course, the general public which annually turns up in droves to attend the small townís once-a- year meeting. And to attend, each one has to register online.
Weíve basically got to go through all the channels like screening each one as they come through the gate to make sure theyíve registered online and all checkout. We even have to take their temperatures. They have to sit down, and we cart everything to them. Thereíd be security everywhere, so all the boxes would have to be ticked. It would have been just too much ñ too many restrictions. We left it for as long as possible to postpone, but at least now we have another 12 months to make the 75th celebrations even bigger and better, Leon said.
Also disappointed that the meeting wonít go ahead is former Barraba trainer (now based in Tamworth) Mark Mason who loads his truck with well-prepared horses in support of his hometown cup meeting each year. So far heís nabbed three cups ñ Night Call and Emotional Outburst, the latter tak- ing out successive cups in 2012/13.
We even got the quinella in Emotional Outburstís first cup win, Rhens ran second, Mark said.
Mark, who moved from Barraba to his Tamworth complex 30 years ago, started his training career by riding work at Canterbury after leaving school before ìreturning to the bushî to ride work for well- known local trainer Keith Smith. He obtained his own trainerís license in 1980.
It was about that year that I saddled up my first winning treble, and that was at Barraba. Back then Barraba had the cup in September, the Newmarket in November, and also raced on Anzac Day, Mark said.
While Markís dad, the late Guy Mason, wasnít a rider or trainer, he had a big interest in many of Markís gallopers, including dual cup win- ner Emotional Outburst and Newmarket winner Park Gem.
And as he always does, Mark had his sights set on another Barraba Cup victory ñ this year with consistent galloper De La Hoya. But then, the gelding is only eight now, so in 12 monthsí time, heíll no doubt be pencilled in for a cup start at Barraba in 2021.
Photo: Trainer Mark Mason and daughter Aimee parade with dual Barraba Cup winner Emotional Outburst.
By Vinnie Todd