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A break in tradition

Wednesday, 31st March, 2010

* St Pat's has been asked to change the date of its traditional * St Pat's has been asked to change the date of its traditional

Next year's St Pat's race meeting will likely be moved forward to March 19 to ensure it receives vital funding from Racing NSW Country, TAB and Sky Channel.

The meeting has been held two weeks before Easter since 1966 with only two exceptions. In 2002 and 2003 the date was also changed, also at the urging of TAB and Sky, to give the meeting full TAB status. The change would mean the 2011 meeting would be held five weeks before Easter.

Race Club Secretary/Manager Cheryl Krutli said that meant a change from tradition, but that the club would support it if it helped guarantee the future of St Pat's. "We see any date in March as appropriate as long as we still have the full support of Racing NSW, the TAB and Sky Channel," she said.

St Pat's is bound by financial considerations to accept the suggested race date, as the industry provided vital funds. A percentage of the total NSW betting revenue both on and off course is paid to St Pat's. "We are in a situation where the funding required to stage a country race meeting like St Pat's depends on racing industry payments from Racing NSW Country and sourced from wagering on the TAB," said Ms Krutli.

"We are bound in many ways to meet their requests in order to maintain vital revenue to conduct the event. Having said that, though, we will always strive for what is best for St Pat's and the people who attend the races."

Mrs Krutli said the club had also been assured that their race meeting would always be aligned with a Group One event in Sydney on the same day. "This is a real attraction for punters because it means they can go to our race meeting and bet on the tote or with our on-course bookmakers on a major metropolitan race," she said.

Racing NSW Country had provided an assurance to St Pat's that the meeting would remain a TAB event and would be covered on Sky, she said. President of the St Pat's Race Club, Margaret Corradini, said they supported the move in principle "providing it will benefit the club and racegoers". She added that the move would mean the event would fall on St Patrick's Day in 2012 for the first time.

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