MURRUMBIDGEE Turf Club (MTC) chief executive Steve Keene wants to ensure the success of this year's Wagga Gold Cup carnival is no one-hit wonder.
A crowd of about 13,000 came through the gates over the two days at Wagga last week as punters celebrated their return to the carnival with the biggest turnout in more than 10 years.
A crowd of around 3000 celebrated Wagga Town Plate day before just under 10,000 enjoyed the perfect conditions on Gold Cup day.
It was a far cry from the cold miserable Gold Cup day of last year, where the general public was locked out due to COVID-19 restrictions.
Keene hailed this year's carnival a stunning success.
"I think the highlight was the size of the crowds and just the enjoyment everyone got out of the two days," Keene said.
"We got a lot of positive feedback with a lot of people telling us that they'll be back next year.
"There was also some fantastic racing. Gary Colvin winning the last (with Monterey Zar) was a highlight as well. The roar was an example of something you would see at the MCG or any football stadium in Australia."
Ensuring the crowd returns again next year is a focus for Keene and the MTC.
"There's always things we want to work on and improve," he said.
"We're like any other event, you're always going to look at things to improve. We've already got a few ideas to try and make it a better experience
"The band after the last was a big hit and that's something we'll continue with. We'll continue to look at improvements so that everyone has a fantastic two days."
Keene admitted some of the success could be credited to last year's lockout but also believes the crowds were a flow-on result of recent race meetings.
"I think people missed it last year but it was also a slow build we've managed through a couple of new staff members," he said.
"We've created a few exciting racedays where the people coming here are having a good time and decide they will come back for the Cup as well.
"A lot of credit goes to Cass Writer, she's brought a lot of new ideas to the sponsorship and marketing department."
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The betting turnover figures for the two days are still being finalised but will be up significantly on last year's carnival.
Keene credited Mark Hart and the state of the track for the strong turnover.
"Turnover was really strong...and was up on last year significantly," he said.
"That just tells you the quality of trainers and riders we had involved in the carnival. And the confidence they have in the track, which was again prepared magnificently by Mark Hart."
Keene was also pleased to report that crowd behaviour was faultless.
"It was the biggest crowd in at least the last 10 years, which is fantastic, and the crowd must be commended on their behaviour," he said.
"There was no issues and everyone behaved really well."
MTC will race next on Saturday, May 29, in what used to be Kurrajong Waratah race day. It has been moved to Everest day in October this year.
The May 29 meeting will now be ladies day.
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