Day At The Track

Macarthur the new capital of harness racing

05:41 PM 30 Oct 2013 NZDT
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Grandstand entrance one: A site to behold
Grandstand entrance one: A site to behold

It has been 10 years in the works and 18 months of construction, now Tabcorp Park Menangle is off and racing.

The new facility, with a capacity of 20,000 people, was unveiled to the Macarthur community on the weekend.

It includes new grandstands, a 1400-metre track regarded by experts as the best in the world, a 300-seat dining room, TV studio, open-air function area, sports bar and 6600 square metres of race day stalls for 107 horses.

And it's the Macarthur community that the NSW Harness Racing Club wants to impress.

"[Menangle Park] is now the mecca of the sport in Australia," chief executive of NSW Harness Racing Club John Dumesny (pictured below) told the Advertiser.

"Macarthur is just a fantastic region . . . and we are proud to be a part of it."

"This track and its facilities are for the Macarthur — this is for the community.

"We want to offer the community a place to go.

"We've spared no expense and the place is architecturally beautiful.

"In five years' time, Menangle Park will go from a village to a thriving suburb of Macarthur."

The NSW Harness Racing Club has spent a total of $43 million after selling the Sydney headquarters of harness racing at Harold Park to set up at Menangle Park.

"You don't spend money like that if you're not confident in the area or what we have to offer," Mr Dumesny said. "We aren't here to be in competition with anyone, we are our own entity."

Tabcorp Park Menangle holds 130 race meetings a year, including the "Melbourne Cup of harness racing" — the Inter Dominion — for the next two years. The first big event for the completed facility will be the Carnival Of Miracles, which will conclude with the famous Miracle Mile meeting on Saturday, November 30.

"It's easily the best track in the southern hemisphere," Mr Dumesny said.

"The track holds 90 per cent of the records at the moment including a 1 minute 48 for the mile.

"In the '60s they wanted to break 2 minutes, that happened at Harold Park in 1967, so it's fitting the record is now here at Menangle."

Another $10 million will be spent on a training facility which will complete the precinct.

"It will have employment opportunities for anyone wanting to be involved in harness racing," Mr Dumesny said. The whole family can be involved in the sport; from trainers, drivers, strappers, owners and breeders."

The main grandstand was named after retiring chairman Rex Horne on the weekend.

He was also given the JP Stratton Award — which is recognised as the highest honour in harness racing in Australia — for his contribution to the sport.

Courtesy of the Wollondwilly Advertiser

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