Newcastle Harness Racing Club chairman Jim Bell believes last week's breakthrough Newcastle Mile will help increase crowds at this Friday night's meeting and beyond as the organisation turns around their financial fortunes.
The NHRC hosted their first group 1 race last Friday night when the Shane and Lauren-trained Yayas Hot Spot won a Miracle Mile start.
Despite a weather-enforced delay to the $100,000 feature, the upgraded event was successful for the club, which had its biggest attendance since hosting an Inter Dominion heat in 2003.
Support from Harness Racing NSW promoted the race and Bell was confident it would have residual benefit.
"That has a carry-on effect for four or five weeks," said Bell, who believed the Mile would continue as an annual group 1 race.
"And I think even the Friday prior, with the promotion and support from media we had, the crowd was up then on our normal Friday meeting."
The lift comes after nine years of financial troubles for the club, which posted a loss of about $240,000 for the 2016-17 financial year. The Herald understands the 2017-18 deficit was greater.
However, office restructures and introduction of stewards and lighting subsidies from HRNSW have helped stem the losses.
"The tough times seem to be behind us a little bit," Bell said. "It's still a work in progress but the finances have turned the corner and that's because we've been able to make changes and there's also been changes by Harness Racing NSW."
Racing returns on Friday night with Keinbah trainer Roy Roots jnr looking for a pre-Chariots of Fire victory.
Roots jnr has The Black Prince as an outsider in the group 1 Chariots of Fire at Menangle on Saturday night.
At Newcastle, he has Tinted Lass (race one), Yayas Hot Heart (six), My Anna Rani (eight) and a strong hand in race four with Alabama Shakes and Amightyfinehorse.