Unfortunate clash

TAREE-Wingham Race Club chairman Greg Coleman said the clash of this year's Taree Cup meeting and the Group Three semi-finals is 'unfortunate but unavoidable.'

The cup will be run on Sunday August 24 - the same weekend Group Three's minor and major semi-finals will be played. Last year the cup was run a week earlier and Group Three was able to work the draw so that the final competition round was played that weekend. All matches were played on the Saturday.

However, as Group Three secretary Barrie Smith explained recently in the Times, delaying the final round to August 23 would mean the grand final wouldn't be played until September 26, which he said is too late.

Mr Coleman, a keen league follower, agrees.

"I can see their point,'' he said.

"The weather's getting more like summer then while they'd also be on the same weekend as the NRL finals. And if they happened to lose a weekend during the semi-finals because of wet weather then their grand final would be the same weekend as the NRL.''

However, he said the problem is that there are five weekends in August this year and that has pushed the cup back a week from usual. Mr Coleman stressed that the race club has no input into race dates. These are determined by Racing NSW.

"We're not asked, we're told,'' he said.

Group Three would generally play the minor semi on the Saturday with the major semi on the Sunday.

Mr Smith indicated if there is a match either on the Hastings or at Kempsey that weekend it will be on the Sunday, regardless of whether it is the major or minor.

However, it could be that both semi-finals could be played in this area while Manning clubs could still be involved in matches played on the Hastings or in Kempsey.

"There's no easy solution,'' Mr Coleman said.

"It is a shame though, because last year our gate was up for cup day while the gates were up for all the Group Three semi-finals. You tend to find that most people who are race goers also follow rugby league so the clash is going to impact on us both.''

Group Three's original draw avoided the clash. However, this was working on the cup being run on August 17.

Taree-Wingham Race Club was only informed this month about the change.

Mr Smith said the group won't consider playing both semi-finals on the same day because of the logistics involved and Mr Coleman agrees this would be difficult.

Mr Coleman expects the cup meeting to be a week earlier next year meaning the clash with the league can be avoided.

"We're just going to have to wear it this year,'' he said.