NJC quick out the gate

NEWCASTLE Jockey Club chief executive Cameron Williams said there were ‘‘smiles a mile wide’’ at Broadmeadow yesterday after the racing industry digested news of Tuesday night’s historic vote in favour of a multimillion-dollar funding package.

An overwhelming 97per cent of NJC members at the meeting ratified constitutional change that will cut the club’s board from 10 to seven – three will be appointed by Racing NSW – in exchange for $11.2million from the race-fields legislation windfall. 

The cash jackpot will bankroll an upgrade of the main course at Broadmeadow, the construction of a second grass track and other improvements, such as an extension of on-track stables.

Williams said the mood at yesterday’s seven-race meeting was buoyant.

‘‘The people who are here at the races today are those who are impacted the most, and that is those whose daily lives revolve around racing,’’ he said. ‘‘That is owners, trainers, jockeys and so on, who really will be so positively impacted by this project we’re about to do.

‘‘The smiles are a mile wide out there, so the overall feeling is one of tremendous excitement.’’

Williams said the NJC would move quickly to begin the process of restructuring the board.

‘‘Next week we’ll be calling for fresh nominations for the newly elected board that will be formed,’’ he said.

‘‘We’ll be sending out correspondence asking members to nominate.’’

He said that at this stage it appeared all 10 incumbents were hoping to be retained.

‘‘Nobody has indicated that they won’t be [standing for re-election],’’ he said.

‘‘From that perspective, I would anticipate that all 10 may nominate.

‘‘There has been nothing to say that they won’t.’’

In conjunction with the election process, Williams said the NJC would begin working through the logistics of the track redevelopment by applying to Newcastle City Council for development approval and calling for tenders.

He said all contracts would be awarded to ‘‘the best company’’, but he was hopeful firms from Newcastle and the Hunter would benefit.

‘‘How you define best comes down to a number of things, and if having a local presence and being here on a day-to-day basis and knowledge of the local area puts somebody ahead of a competing bid, then great,’’ he said.

‘‘Newcastle has some very strong businesses here to choose from, so I’m sure locals will be very well represented in this process ... 

‘‘I’d have every expectation local companies will get a lot of work out of this.’’ 

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