Photo: The girls’ foot race at the 2022 Yass Races after racing was called off due to wet weather (Brianna O’Rourke)

Racing will remain front and centre in the Marchmont Racecourse Reserve development plans the President of the Marchmont Racecourse Trust, Ben Maguire, said recently at the Yass Valley Business Chamber Breakfast.

“We’d like you to understand that the key message is racing is very important and will remain front and centre of the plans for the grounds,” he said. “But we can do so much more.”

With the interests of both the community and grounds in mind, the Marchmont Racecourse Trust has collectively defined some of its ambitions for the grounds.

Ben said non-motorised sports are best suited for the facility such as equestrian sports. In addition to horse racing the grounds were also previously used for polocrosse but the centre of the track is currently unusable.

“If you’re familiar with the grounds, you’ll now know that the centre of the track is pretty much redundant,” Ben said.

“At the moment, you can see lots of long grass but what that’s hiding is thousands of rubber tyres, a pretty tired car racing track, lots of abandoned vehicles, and a bit of a mess.”

Ben said the Trust’s first ambition is to clean up the grounds and secondly, they wish to see the grounds used for more than just one day a year during the Yass Picnic Races.

The Trust has reportedly already made a connection with Racing NSW to determine what they can do to ensure the track is in good condition in the event of another rainfall leading to the cancellation of the Yass Picnic Races.

Ben also mentioned several other equestrian sports that would be well suited to use the grounds including camp drafting, Pony Club, and rodeo.

The Trust President said the investment that people make in these horse sports and industries has a flow-on effect on all the associated businesses.

“If those grounds were used more than one day, or a dozen or even over 100 days a year for major events, then I really hope that the connection to the business community is seen, and people see that confidence.”

Last November the NSW Government allocated $150,000 for the redevelopment of the Marchmont Racecourse as part of a $67 million package for regional racetracks.

Ben said the grant was going to be used to clean up the grounds and develop a masterplan for the site.

The first stage of the masterplan will be community consultation, and Ben said the Trust want to host a meeting where people are able to express their input on the usage of the site. The next step will be to secure quotes for cleaning up the middle of the track.

Ben said the centre of the track is currently a “hazard” and the Trust also aims to level the ground and environmentally dispose of the tyres littering the area.

“The environment out there is beautiful,” he said. “There really is an enormous potential given that it’s on about 80 acres of land and there’s a huge amount of this not being utilized at the moment.”

Ben suggested the grounds could also be used for private functions such as weddings, meetings, or field days.

“The reality is that in terms of hosting major equine sports, there’s nothing really between Tamworth and the other side of the Victorian border,” Ben said.

“When you think about where we’re located on the highway and our connection to regional/rural Australia, we’re very well placed to have something here in the Yass Valley that will do that.”

Ben encouraged locals to come along to the Marchmont Racecourse Redevelopment community consultation, which will likely be held in April/May.

By Brianna O’Rourke