Newcastle Jockey Club back in winners’ circle for spring carnival

Newcastle Jockey Club has bounced back from one of its toughest financial years and will post a profit for 2017-18.

TEAM: NJC chairman Geoff Barnett, Sharp managing director George Tuntevski and NJC chief Matt Benson.

TEAM: NJC chairman Geoff Barnett, Sharp managing director George Tuntevski and NJC chief Matt Benson.

And the club has plenty more to celebrate as it prepares for its spring carnival.

The NJC revealed on Friday that Sharp Electronics Group has signed on as sponsor of the group 3 Newcastle Cup (2300 metres) for the next four years in a six-figure deal. 

Brewing giant Lion had been the long-time backer of the club’s flagship race, which was already increasing prizemoney from $175,000 to $200,000 this year.

NJC chief Matt Benson said the club had signed a new supply deal with Lion which focused on promotion and engagement rather than race sponsorship.

Benson said the new partnership with Sharp would support the Cup increase to $200,000, which the club hoped to build further.

The Cup will be held on September 14 this year along with three other group 3 races. Benson said Yarraman Park Stud had returned as sponsor of the Tibbie Stakes, Australian Bloodstock was again supporting the Cameron Handicap and Hungerford Hill was taking over for the Spring Stakes.

The news comes as the NJC prepares to post a significant turnaround for the 2017-18 financial year. The club had a loss on underlying performance of $1,007,169 for 2016-17 after launching and maintaining its renovated $11.2 million course proper.

Although waiting for final distribution figures from Racing NSW, Benson said the club would return a profit for 2017-18.

“There’s been a positive turnaround and we’re looking forward to a positive financial result for the club,” Benson said. “Our crowds have been consistently very good, the hospitality department has performed really well and our functions areas have been well supported.”

He said more efficient staffing structures and resources, as well as a better understanding of the track, also improved the bottom line.

“Water wise, it was still a challenge over summer but thankfully we budgeted for a dry summer,” he said. “The previous year we were in uncharted waters as to how much irrigation was going to be required on the track.”