Port Hedland Turf Club plans for no crowds, unveils no-membership 2022 season

Mia BurgessNorth West Telegraph
The second, third and fouth horses in race one cross the line Daneka Hill
Camera IconThe second, third and fouth horses in race one cross the line Daneka Hill Credit: North West Telegraph/North West Telegraph

Major changes are in store for the Port Hedland race season, with the turf club planning for crowd-less events and remote celebrations to battle the uncertainty surrounding restrictions and ongoing construction works.

In a statement, the Port Hedland Turf Club said it looked likely crowds would not return to the venue, but alternate arrangements would be made.

“With the demolition of our existing facilities to make room for construction of the new Port Hedland Community Centre, plus ever-changing COVID restrictions, it’s sure going to be a challenging year for us,” the statement said.

“If that happens, we are endeavouring to lock in alternative venues so you can still enjoy some race day fun, COVID pending of course.”

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WA entered Level 2 restrictions on March 3, which bans spectators at community sports and places a 500 person limit on public outdoor events, with the 2sqm rule and mask wearing in place.

The construction of the town’s new Sports and Community hub also leaves the club without facilities to host and cater for its members and as a result, the club announced no memberships would be sold for the 2022 season.

Emily Glasson, Darcy Roe and Vicki Lee at Goodline Ladies Day
Camera IconEmily Glasson, Darcy Roe and Vicki Lee at Goodline Ladies Day Credit: Elliott Turner/North West Telegraph

The annual ladies day and fashions on the field events also look unlikely to go ahead in 2022.

“We understand this is a huge disappointment to many people,” the club said.

“But if we are dealing with crowd restrictions, it would not be viable or legal.

“The decision on this will be made closer to the normal date.”

The 2022 racing season at PHTC is set to kick off on May 14, with weekly race meets until Port Hedland Cup Day on July 31.

While the club has conceded the conditions are challenging, it said it was “up to the task”.

“We want nothing more than to keep providing quality racing events for Hedland and the Pilbara,” it said.

“We will need a lot of help to keep PHTC going, so if you know of anyone that is looking to volunteer or sponsor community events, our committee would love to hear from you.”

After the Marble Bar Races were cancelled with just three days notice in 2021, committee member Amy Pfitzner said she was holding out hope that things don’t change further in 2022.

“At the moment, as far as restrictions go, it’s probably going to be a similar situation as we were in last year,” she said.

“Although our vaccination rates are pretty high, unless anything drastic changes, we think there will be some people who will miss out due to not being vaccinated.

“We’re in a very different position to the Port Hedland Turf club, we only have one race meet per year and it’s more than just the races, nothing compares to it for the town.”

Ms Pfitzner said that the longer the Marble Bar Races are impacted by COVID-19, “the harder it gets” for the racing club to recover.

The Marble Bar races are scheduled to go ahead on July 2.

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