Improvements for city's big race meet

Tuesday, 9th February, 2010

* Mayor Wincen Cuy officially opened the St Pat's Race Club office in Crystal Street yesterday. * Mayor Wincen Cuy officially opened the St Pat's Race Club office in Crystal Street yesterday.

Beer drinkers, punters and women are set to enjoy the St Patrick's races that little bit more this year, as the countdown to the 45th annual race meeting begins. The St Pat's Club - which has secured the Silverton Wind Farm as a major corporate sponsor - said yesterday that it had found "several key areas" in need of improvement or upgrade ahead of this year's races on March 20.

Beer drinkers will be rejoicing after confirmation that, after a year of forced abstinence, the full strength variety will be back on the menu. Only mid strength and light beer were available last year after police made a ban on full-strength alcohol a condition of the club's licence.

The move, part of a state-wide crackdown on the sale of full-strength alcohol at public events, was criticised by some race-goers and led to a large drop in bar sales. In July last year the club announced that it was again allowed to sell full-strength beer at the St Pat's races and the Silver City Cup meeting.

The about-face followed a meeting between club representatives and the local and regional licencing officers.

Yesterday, club secretary/manager Cheryl Krutli said that five different beers would be available at this year's races, including two full-strength varieties. Club president Margaret Corradini said that the club executive had been in talks with brewer Lion Nathan. The club will also change the prices after patrons were charged the same amount for mid strength and light beer last year.

"There will be a set price based on the alcohol content of the product which should please our patrons," Mrs Corradini said. However, a ban on full-strength spirits remains and police have also informed the club it will no longer be allowed to sell full-strength champagne. Instead at least three varieties of reduced-strength champagne, or sparking wine, will be offered to patrons.

"That's one of the conditions of our licence that we have no full-strength champagne," said Mrs Krutli, who added that full strength red and white wine would continue to be sold. Other changes will include an upgrade to the members bar, relocating a TAB outlet to the main betting ring, and improving facilities at the women's toilet block. The club, which will be open daily until the meeting, also announced that it had secured the Silverton Wind Farm as a major sponsor for the races.

"After some discussion they agreed to become involved with the race meeting and their contribution will enable us to improve our facilities even further," Mrs Krutli said. With just over five weeks to the races, Mrs Krutli said that most of the pre-booked sites have been sold. "At this stage over 75 per cent of our picnic sites are sold and our pavilion is over half full, so we are anticipating that within the next week or two we will have filled these areas."

Along with raising the prize money for the Clubs NSW Keno Outback Cup to $45,000, the club has introduced a number of initiatives to celebrate the races' 45 year milestone. A special line of wine will be available along with a $45 membership package that will include a commemorative badge and a $10 sweep ticket.