Twenty brand spanking new stables, shower facilities, plus a freshly built BBQ and kitchen area will greet trainers and staff when they arrive at the Kangaroo Island Racing Club for the upcoming KI Carnival.
Incredibly the new amenities only cost the club $50,000 due to the generosity of volunteers and sponsors, and the passionate work of the club’s small committee.
“We don’t like sitting back and relaxing and hoping that people will come. We like to be more active in making sure that they do come,” said club Secretary/Treasurer Greg Miller.
“Because of the success we’ve had with our trainers bonuses, a record 267 nominations were received last year. We had to hire stables from Magic Millions and bring them over from the mainland and set them up and dismantle them again and that wasn’t a cheap exercise, so we decided to build 20 new ones.”
Retired farmer and shearer Kerry Brinkley, who’s also a committee member, single handedly built the stables over a period of two months. Kerry was also responsible for building the new showers for trainers and staff who camp overnight on course.
“The volunteer labour of Kerry saved us a significant amount of money,” Greg said.
“He put them all together and has done a magnificent job. We’ve had a few people look at them already and they think they’re magic.
“One of our many sponsors (A.G. Wilson Earthmovers) donated truckloads of sand and road base used in the construction of the stables. He also supplied the materials for the cement that was needed to put the posts in.”
The committee’s initiatives have helped grow the Carnival into what is now Kangaroo Island’s largest event.
Transport to and from the island for mainland horses, trainers and jockeys is provided free courtesy of Sealink and the Kangaroo Island Racing Club.
And 2022 will be the second year that the trainers’ challenge prizemoney has doubled to $10,000, with a $2000 bonus to be shared by the three most successful jockeys across the three race days on Saturday, January 22nd, Thursday, February 17th, and the KI Cup on Saturday, February 19.
“We came off the bushfires two years ago and we had record attendances. People wanted to come and support us – they wanted to support the island itself.
“We had horses stabled out there – farmer’s horses who had lost all their properties and fencing and stables, so we stabled their horses on the race course for a period of time.
“We also had the army putting their heavy machinery out there while fighting the fires.
“Then this past year COVID came and we were restricted to 2,500 people at the Cup but the interesting thing was it was a sell-out two weeks before the event.”
The committee’s also been told that the racing surface is up to provincial standard.
It all adds up to strong interest from not only trainers and jockeys, but mainland punters wanting to visit the island as well.
“We have a long lunch on Cup Day. The long lunch which caters for 390 people sold out in October.
“The majority are mainland people coming over and we’ve got a waiting list. We also have what we call party marquees – they all sold out in October too,” Greg said.
“It’s a great feeling but I just wish we could cater for more people in those marquees. Because of the layout of our track we’ve got an actual river running behind the race course so we’re limited to the depth of the course in the public area.
“If we could get more we’d love to squeeze them in. If we could build a tunnel under the track and have the inside open up that would be great.”
Considering what the club’s committee has already achieved, you can bet that they’ll be seriously looking at whether a tunnel is possible.
There’s still 1500 general admission tickets available for the Kangaroo Island Cup which can be purchased through Sealink, sealink.com.au or 131 301
Interested Trainers and jockeys can contact James Bates on 0400 852 522 for more details.
Kangaroo Island Racing Club memberships available at www.kiraces.com