Thousands descended on the new Riverina Paceway as harness racing's brand new era in Wagga kicked off in grand style.
Around 3500 spectators packed into Wagga's new harness track on Sunday and they were greeted with some impressive performances on the track.
Tuapeka Glory set a new track record in a thrilling finish to the Musco Lighting & Inland Pace Pace (2270m).
Utilising the new sprint lane, the seven-year-old just run down leader Pocket Of Terror to win by short half head.
He clocked a mile rate of 1:58.2 for Bathurst combination Wendy and Emma Turnbull.
The first seven horses finished with 3.3 metres of the winner, with chances fanned out across the track, but the shortest way home proved to be the best.
Barkway Arnold also equalled the time set in the first ever race at the track.
Another to use the cutaway to get the win, the eight-year-old clocked a mile rate of 1:54.6 in the Sheathers Painting & Bodels Plumbing Final (1740m).
It is the same time as the record El Aguila run last month.
The fast times is just one thing Harness Racing chief executive John Dumesny likes about the new track.
"It's a great crowd, the weather has been kind to us and it is a relief of some description," Dumesny said
"We're finally here as it has been such a long journey, not so much for me but for the Riverina to get what they so deserve.
"They deserve a facility like these where all the other tracks can feed into it and the horses and the horse people can show how good they are.
"People look at times and now they can show they can run the times."
He was thrilled to see some many people track side.
With so much interest around the opening of the new track over a decade in the works, Wagga chief executive Graeme White was blown away to have so many people come along to experience it.
White said the crowd, and the crowd's reaction, exceeded expectations.
"It was mind blowing really," White said.
"We knew it would be really big but it was even bigger than what we thought."
Now he's looking to keep up the momentum.
Wagga's next meeting is on March 22 and they race four more times before their Carnival of Cups meeting on April 21.
"There was a lot of people here so now it is about repeat business and getting them back to have another good time," White said.
"We're really looking forward to the next big one on Easter Sunday.
"I think we signed up another 40 members today, which makes 80 for the week, plus three more sponsors.
"We put a lot of time and effort into this day and it paid off."
Leading reinsman Luke McCarthy was also impressed with the new facility.
One of the best in the country, McCarthy isn't a regular visitor to Wagga but expects it will be on his agenda more now because of the bigger track.
"It is really good but it is one of those things where I don't think you will see the Sydney stables come weekly but when there are feature races on, like the Wagga Cup coming up soon, I'm sure you'll see them," he said.
"Tim Butt is here today, KerryAnn Turner, Robbie Morris and Darren McCall which is good to see.
"I think you will see them come on the feature races whereas we wouldn't have bothered going to the other track."
"It was mind blowing really. We knew it would be really big but it was even bigger than what we thought."Wagga Harness Racing Club chief executive Graeme White
While admitting it will improve as time passes, overall McCarthy was impressed with the 1070-metre track on his first visit to the city in about five years.
"It was really good," he said.
"I thought it was a little bit fence biased early in the day but I think as the day has gone on with a bit more compaction two, three and four wide it has played a bit fairer.
"It is only going to take two or three meetings for it to be consistent."
He thought the track had got firmer under foot as the meeting progressed.
It helps that he was the most successful reinsman of the day with two winners.
Island Banner was able to dictate in front, getting way with slow sectionals before finishing too strong for her rivals.
She went on to down Jeradas Delight by 1.1 metres, clocking a slick last quarter of 27 seconds.
The four-year-old took out the richest race on the card, the $15,900 Best In The Bush Final and was the main reason for the trip west.
"I had the only horse who I thought could beat us on our backs in Jeradas Delight, and I have a fair bit of respect for it, so we had to go as easy as we could and just make it a sprint up the straight," McCarthy said.
"Scotty and Kathy (Robertson) bred her and still race her so we set her for this race with the final being here and them being locals.
"It was really good she could win the final for them."
He also tasted success with Love My Sister who overcame an outside of the second row draw to make it two wins in a row.
McCarthy was thrilled with how she finished off the race, going on to defeat Gone Way Back by 7.5 metres after doing plenty of the work.
"She went great," he said.
"She was really good at Canberra and because we were setting Island Banner for this race we saved her for the Frith Stakes.
"We were keen to win it as she was in the stable at Cobbity when she won the Ladyship Mile a few seasons ago.
"It was nice to win that race as well having that connection with Bernie and Di (Kelly).
Her mile rate of 1:54.7 was just a fraction outside the track record.
Years in the works, Dumesny is hoping the people of the Riverina continue to support the new track.
Off the initial showing he's confident they will.
"They will come back as we have modern facilities," he said.
"Even in the winter you will be able to be inside with those modern facilities.
"It's proven at Bathurst with more people at the new track than the old track at the Showgrounds, and the old Showground was right in the centre of the town, similar to what we have here.
"We've got a good facility, it's new and it is just the way the industry is.
"A lot of racing codes are on old facilities, we're on properties not owned and controlled by our industry and our strategy is to do that."
White thought veteran Leeton trainer Norm Diebert summed it up best.
"The comment that stands out the most to me is to have a bloke like Normmy Diebert, who has been in the game for 50 years, and he said it was like the gold old days at Harold Park," White said.
"It was a real compliment."
While visitors won six of the 10 races there were some local success stories as well.
Delightful Jackie resumed after her third in the group one NSW Breeders Challenge last season to take out the three-year-old race on the card.
She made it two wins and three placings form six career starts by downing Prosecco Boy by a head in the Rambler Welding & Harrisons Joinery Three Year Old Pace (1740m) for trainer-driver Bruce Harpley.
However her three-quarter sister Molly Kelly couldn't back it up later in the card
The group one winner, having just her second start for Harpley, galloped out of the gate losing her chance in the McKinnon Design Final.
The race was taken by out Shes Sporty for David Kennedy and Blake Jones.
Junee father and son combination Saul and Bayley Duck combined to take out the Men Of League - Steve Mullins Wagga Takes Two Final (1740m) after a stroke of luck at the beginning.
Last season's MIA Breeders Plate winner Major Roll looked to have crossed the field comfortably only to gallop and almost fall.
It enabled Mister Donald to assume the ascendancy and he never relinquished it, going on to defeat Rocky Creed by 4.4 metres.
Major Roll recovered to finish third.