Harness racing is returning to Gawler.
A one-off family-focused meeting will be held on Sunday, March 4 at the Gawler Harness Racing Club’s new track on Two Wells Road.
Harness Racing South Australia chairman Chris Hartwig said he was delighted the sport was returning to Gawler.
“It’s a one-off event at this stage, but I think it will provide a great insight what it means to have a race meeting at Gawler,” Mr Hartwig said.
“It will be an integral part of our planning to develop Gawler into an ongoing racing venue. We will learn a lot from this meeting.”
Peter Bain, president of the Gawler Harness Racing Club, said the meeting would incorporate families but also have a heritage component and to pay tribute to people who have made the club so strong and successful.
“We will be recognising people such as Henry Weaver and Dudley Kemp, who I’m certain, would be delighted to see racing conducted again at our own venue,” Mr Bain said.
After racing at the Gawler Oval, the Gawler Harness Racing Club moved to a track at Weaver Road which was then compulsory acquired for the building of the Northern Expressway. Their last meeting was in June 2008.
“It was a shattering time for the club,” Mr Bain said.
“Credit to the past and present committees, and to all our members, they took the decision on the chin, and we have been able to come up with a new track.
“The first intention was to be able to give our members somewhere to work their horses, but as time has progressed, so our goals changed.
“We wanted to make the track suitable for trials, and that was granted last year, and we began trialling in September.
“The track received a big ‘thumbs up’ from industry participants and on Sunday, March 4 it will be quite emotional to be able to stage a race meeting.”
Mr Bain said there were a lot of people who had worked hard to enable the club to race again.
“Apart from our own committee, people such as Mark Carey, Barbara Scott and John Lewis were very helpful. Ross Neal has been a key in ensuring we race again, while chairman Chris Hartwig and the current directors have been supportive.
“From the time we closed, Tony Piccolo, the member for Light, has worked hard to help us race again, and we are indebted to him.”
Mr Piccolo welcomed the announcement.
“I have been very privileged to be able to work alongside the local committee, and the industry body HRSA, to help harness racing return to Gawler,” Mr Piccolo said.
“I an aware how painful it was for local harness racing supporters when the old track was closed down due to the construction of the Northern Expressway.
“That is why I have worked closely with the local members to make it (Sunday, March4) happen.
“The family fun day will be a great day for harness racing and local families.”
Mr Bain said work would continue after March 4 to hopefully have the club hold more meetings later in the year, and into the future.