Taree-Wingham and Krambach race clubs to merge

Taree-Wingham Race Club chairman Greg Coleman speaking at the presentation of this year's Taree Gold Cup. He'll be one of five Taree representatives on the nine strong Manning Valley Race Club board.
Taree-Wingham Race Club chairman Greg Coleman speaking at the presentation of this year's Taree Gold Cup. He'll be one of five Taree representatives on the nine strong Manning Valley Race Club board.

MANNING Valley Race Club looks sure to come into operation from Monday January 1 2018.

This will be a merger of the Taree-Wingham and Krambach clubs.

The new entity will be the third largest out of 125 clubs controlled by Racing NSW Country behind the Clarence River Jockey Club based at Grafton and the Murrumbidgee Turf Club at Wagga. Manning Valley will run 22 meetings a year, with 21 to have full TAB coverage. The Melbourne Cup day meeting will be the only non-TAB. Clarence River and Murrumbidgee clubs both run 24 meetings.

Krambach previously conducted three meetings a year, Taree-Wingham 19.

However, this will first have to be ratified by 75 per cent of the 168 Taree-Wingham members. All have been contacted regarding an extraordinary meeting to the held at the Winning Post Function Centre on Wednesday September 20 from 7pm. Krambach will also have to observe due process.

Taree-Wingham chairman Greg Coleman doesn't foresee any problems with the vote.

Mr Coleman said the boards of the Krambach and Taree-Wingham clubs agreed to call the club Manning Valley Race Club following considerable debate, but added his board stipulated it was ‘non-negotiable.’ The name Taree-Wingham-Krambach Race Club was rejected.

“The Manning Valley Race Club describes the broader region the club represents and is located,’’ Mr Coleman said.

He said the clubs will begin an integration process from October 1, which will provide a smooth and more cost effective transition.

The new board will have nine members – five from Taree-Wingham and four from Krambach. They are Greg Coleman, Neil Dignam, Tony Walton, Jeff Sheedy and Steve Knott (Taree-Wingham) and Les Cross, Brian Kelly, Martin Bates and Trevor Wisemantle from Krambach. Mr Cross is the Krambach president. All executive positions on the board will be determined by vote before January 1. Major cup meetings previously run by both clubs will continue to be conducted. This includes the Taree, Wingham, Krambach, Gloucester, Hannam Vale and Hopkins/Livermore cups. The Krambach Cup meeting on Friday October 20 will be run by Taree-Wingham in conjunction with Krambach. All of Taree-Wingham’s current staff will also come across to the new entity.

Mr Coleman said the new club will be in a strong financial position as Taree-Wingham and Krambach were both extremely viable.

“We’ll be bringing $222,000 to the table,'’ Les Cross previously told the Times.

The new club’s first meeting will be on Thursday January 4 where the Harrington Cup will be the feature race. Mr Coleman said this will be a Showcase meeting where the minimum prizemoney will be $30,000. This day attracts one of the biggest crowds of the year to the Bushland Drive track, swollen by holiday makers, particularly from the Harrington area.

Mr Coleman said the new club will usher an ‘exciting time’ for racing in this area and it will be a ‘major player’ in country racing.

“It will be good for racing and at the end of the day, that's what we’re here for,’’ he added.

Krambach’s three options

THE path to amalgamation between the Taree-Wingham and Krambach race clubs started when Krambach’s board was informed earlier this year by Racing NSW Country that its days were numbered.

This was reported in exclusively in the Times on Wednesday April 26 by racing correspondent Doug Ryan.

Here Krambach president Les Cross said the club was steadfastly against any moves to amalgamate.

However, the club had three options – merge with Taree-Wingham or Tuncurry-Forster or cease operations.

Krambach initially protested the decision to the Minister for Racing, Paul O’Toole, through Member for Myall Lakes, Stephen Bromhead.

However, the club also held talks with the Tuncurry-Forster club and Taree-Wingham. Tuncurry-Forster president Garry McQuillan, while accommodating a possible amalgamation, said any merger would be dependent on ‘Forster’ staying in the new entity’s name.

“The name Forster sells this place,’’ Mr McQuillan told the Great Lakes Advocate.

Krambach has raced at Taree since the track at Krambach closed in 1968. The club was the first to run a meeting at the then-newly opened Bushland Drive track in 1974 after the closure of the previous track near where the Manning Aquatic Leisure Centre is now situated at Taree Recreation Centre.

Krambach’s history dates back to 1882, with the club initially racing on a track on the outskirts of the village.

However, Taree-Wingham Race Club chairman Greg Coleman promised the history of all clubs – Taree, Wingham, Taree-Wingham and Krambach, will be honoured by the Manning Valley Race Club. He said life members of all clubs will be transferred to the Manning Valley Race Club. 

Krambach president Les Cross previously told the Times his club had been directed by Racing NSW Country to merge with Taree-Wingham.

Mr Coleman said his club didn’t instigate the amalgamation. However, he pointed to the successful merger between the Taree Race Club and Wingham and Upper Manning Jockey Club that took place at the turn of the century.

“And there’s been no bigger merger in racing than the Australian Jockey Club (AJC) and the Sydney Turf Club (STC) to form the Australian Turf Club (ATC) in 2011,’’ he added.

“We’ll have a stable board going forward and this will be good for racing,’’ Mr Coleman concluded.