Wind-blown Waimate club back up and running
Lex Williams might not have quite had the perfect introduction to the presidency of the Waimate Trotting Club that he hoped for, but the prominent harness racing owner and breeder is confident things will improve this week.
Williams, who with wife Heather raced champion mare One Over Kenny, took charge of the small inland South Canterbury club a week before the big winds of September caused havoc across the country, including significant damage to the Waimate racecourse's grounds and buildings.
"I think I'd been in charge for a week and they rung and said I'd better come down and have a look," Williams said.
"The place was a bit of a mess really, we lost the roof on both of our grandstands, the same for the swab box and the stalls and we also lost a few of our open stalls too. So it was hardly the way I wanted to start."
The damage was so severe there was talk of this weekend's meeting being shifted, but some hard work by volunteers and club officials has ensured it remains at Waimate.
"I never thought we would be able to race here, but thanks to some hard work from some of the locals, and our contractors, everything is in place for the weekend."
With the use of marquees, Williams hopes to offer up a more enjoyable experience for racegoers this weekend, including the relocation of the main bar which had been situated a fair way from the track.
The public stand will also be available, but without its roof.
The meeting caps a big weekend for Waimate with the annual Strawberry Fair and the rodeo both being held on Saturday.
The feature race on the programme is the Waimate Cup which will be run for a stake of $14,000 and include last start Addington winner Classiesistar. There is also a small, but quality, field of trotters, including last Sunday's Methven Green Mile winner Phil's Gift.