Whanganui is no stranger to making history and has hit the headlines yet again as one of the first cities in New Zealand to host a sporting event under Covid-19 alert level 3.
Christchurch and Whanganui were the two venues chosen to kickstart domestic racing yesterday and fittingly so, given Addington and Hatrick Raceways are the busiest greyhound racing venues in the country.
Christchurch nosed out Whanganui by eight minutes to get cracking yesterday with their first race at 12 noon, while the first at Hatrick jumped at 12.08pm.
Whanganui, however, edged out its southern cousin in the history-making stakes with the Wanganui Jockey Club the oldest racing club in the country, still racing at the same venue after launching in 1848.
Wanganui Greyhound Racing Club operations manager Paul Freeman said he was delighted to be part of history and pleased for all trainers and racing participants involved to finally make a return to work.
"We trialled on Thursday, Friday and Sunday in the lead up to make sure everything was ready to go come raceday and the track was in perfect order (despite the rain) to make a start," Freeman said.
"We are set to continue our traditional Wednesday day meetings (including today) and Friday night fixtures each week until the end of the season on July 31. Our minimum stakes remain the same, although we have lost all our black type events. Wanganui loses two Group One races each worth $40,000."
Freeman said under alert level 3 only essential staff were allowed on course and no public were on hand to watch racing, and that was likely to remain the rules under alert level 2 that could come as early as next week.
"I would be very surprised if we could open up to the public on racedays even under level 2, but like everyone else we will just have to wait and see. We will have some major announcements to make regarding racedays when everything finally does open up.
"Our website has been redesigned and will be turned back on when this is all over. In the meantime we are just happy to be back racing at all," Freeman said.
Meanwhile, Whanganui is one of six venues chosen to host the return of thoroughbred horse racing in July.
The Wanganui Jockey Club has confirmed dates booked for July 10 and 24.