Tumut races postponed due to heat and smoke

The Tumut Racecourse was blanketed in smoke.

The Tumut Turf Club will have to wait a little longer before hosting their first TAB meeting in 19 years.

The Tumut Mile meeting that was set down for this Saturday has since been postponed to January 18 by Racing NSW, with temperatures forecast to reach 45 degrees and smoke currently blanketing the town. 

The decision was made Thursday morning at 8.30am, with Racing NSW citing the dangers currently being experienced across the regions due to the catastrophic bushfires.

Racing NSW steward Jason Shultz understood it was a hard decision to make but believed it was the only logical way forward.

“People don’t need to be worried about racing and holding a race meeting when they have bigger things to worry about,” he said.

Schultz suggested it was bad timing, with the current spate of bushfires in the region but hopes the new date will benefit the Tumut Turf Club in the long run.

“Hopefully when their first TAB meeting does come around, it can be during a time that allows the meeting to be successful,” he said.

Tumut trainer and track curator Kerry Weir was happy that Racing NSW made the decision early.

“It’s the only decision you could make with the current conditions,” he said.

“I was standing at the bar and I could barely see the winning post, so it was definitely a good call.”

Weir, who worked some of his horses on the track earlier in the morning, suggested conditions were getting worse by the hour.

“We started working four horses early this morning and it wasn’t that bad but it has got worse in the last hour and now you can’t see in front of you,” he said.

The decision will be a hard one for Weir to swallow though, after he put countless hours into the surface, but he did admit having a TAB meeting later on would still benefit the club.

“The track is really good and would have been perfect by Saturday, still it’s just not safe to race,” he said.

“TAB racing is just so beneficial towards the club and the town, a lot of people rely on the income and it impacts a lot of livelihoods, so it’s good it has just been postponed.”

At an administrative level, Tumut Turf Club president and volunteer fire fighter Dave Rosetta backed Racing NSW and their early decision.

“It’s a good decision, especially with horses welfare being so important,” he said.

“It’s going to be a terrible day on Saturday and I think the last thing people want to be doing is racing, or going to the races.”

Rosetta hopes the new January 18 meeting will give members of the community a chance to decompress after a very tough period.

“With so much of the district being impacted by fire and drought, we hope the meeting can offer something for the community,” he said.

“We will even have something on offer for all those fire fighters who have been helping battle the fires.”

The Tumut Turf Club isn’t the only race club that has been impacted by the current fires and dry period.

Gundagai-Adelong Racing Club lost their Adelong Cup meeting on New Years Day due to the smoke haze.

Additionally, the Sapphire Coast and Moruya have been postponed, and future meetings will be at risk of being lost if conditions continue to get worse.