Waimate Racecourse will host its first race in close to five years at the end of March, in the form of the Waimate Trotting Club’s annual meeting.
Oamaru Racecourse has hosted the South Canterbury club’s meetings since a September 2013 storm ripped roofs off the Waimate Racecourse grandstands. An administration building was also damaged.
As a result, both grandstands were demolished before a settlement was reached between trustees and insurers.
In September 2014, trustees decided to replace the grandstands with two former classrooms from a North Otago school, to house administration offices and facilities for male and female jockeys and drivers.
The final stage of the racecourse’s redevelopment was completed at the end of 2017 when a new tower was constructed using three shipping containers.
Waimate Trotting Club president Lex Williams said he would never forget the first time he saw the storm-damaged infrastructure at the racecourse four and a-half years ago.
“I thought that was the end of the track in Waimate. I thought it would be the nail in the coffin for the Waimate track, but with a lot of determination we got it cleaned up and rebuilt.
“We virtually had to start from scratch.”
He said portable totes would be used at the March 25 meeting, while marquees and tables and chairs would be set up to cater for what he expected would be a decent crowd.
Williams was excited racing was returning to Waimate.
“We’re really looking forward to getting going. We’re expecting some great support.”
Eleven races had been scheduled and a strong field was expected for the meeting, with race one set to go at noon.
Mr Williams said Sarah Palin would have the final run of her career at the meeting, which he believed would be a big drawcard.
From 183 starts, the 9-year-old has 10 career wins, 30 second-place finishes and 20 third-place finishes, and has won more than $120,000 in stakes