HAZARDOUS bushfire smoke has forced the cancellation of Gundagai's traditional New Year's Day race meeting, and Tumut's first-ever TAB meeting on Saturday may also be in danger.
Southern District Racing Association chief steward Jason Schultz said it was "an easy decision to make" when confronted with the poor air quality and visibility at the track this morning.
The non-TAB meet is Gundagai Adelong Racing Club's third biggest behind the Gundagai Cup and Snake Gully Cup, but secretary Len Tozer said the safety of horses and participants is paramount.
"It's unfortunate but the conditions here are impossible, you can't see from one side of the track to the other," he said.
"We've got to consider all the people involved in these fires, especially those who have lost family members and others who have lost properties. Our little problem is pretty small.
"Financially it hurts to lose any meeting because of the money spent to get things organised, but we'll get through it OK.
"I don't see any real adverse financial situations coming from it.
"It's the only non-TAB meeting we have for the year and it's more or less a family day out. Given the conditions, I don't think we would have got too many families out there today."
Schultz said he is hopeful of making a decision on Tumut by Thursday. Saturday's extreme heat is also threatening the meeting, with a top of 44 degrees forecast.
"I got a photo (of the track) from the secretary of the club today and it didn't look nearly as bad as it is in Gundagai," he said.
"(With the bushfires), there's bigger things to worry about at the moment than running a race meeting.
"They're still tipping over 40 degrees and tomorrow morning we'll try and make some decisions then if we can."
Schultz said starting racing earlier in the day is an option they will assess.
"It's always an option. The only thing is if you start racing earlier the horses are travelling home in the hottest part of the day," he said.
"We just have to sit down and work out what the best outcome is."