Clarence River Jockey Club chairman Graeme Green said that dwindling crowds and industry participation at the annual Grafton Cup Carnival contributed to the shock sacking of chief executive Bradley de Martino Rosaroll on Wednesday night.
The board responded to a no-confidence vote at a specially convened meeting on Wednesday night in dismissing De Martino Rosaroll and while the board was disappointed with several aspects of this year’s Grafton Cup Carnival, that was not the only reason for the dismissal.
“We have probably been focusing on the wrong strategies in recent times and the board felt it would be in the interest of both parties to move on,” Green said.
“We were disappointed in a number of aspects of this year’s carnival – not that Brad was entirely to blame for that.”
“He has done a lot of good at the club and we appreciate all the work he did do.”
Fears that the once popular Grafton Cup Carnival was starting to be affected by the current economic climate was foreseen by local trainer John Shelton who has been based in Grafton for the last thirty years.
“It is definitely a big drawcard, a lot of money is spent over the two days, but the crowds are down, I think it is just a sign of the times,” Shelton said.
“Owners are dropping off, it is expensive to go to the races for two days of the carnival.”
De Martino Rosaroll said he was very surprised at the board’s decision and it was going to take some time to work through it.
“I haven’t really got my head around it yet, to tell you the truth, but I will be here for the next day or so to help Graeme get things in order before I depart,” de Martino Rosaroll said.
“They have given me lots of different reasons and this year’s July Carnival is part of it, but they are also realistic about the current economic climate in the Clarence Valley and elsewhere.”
“It has been a privilege to be involved in one of the most prestigious clubs in country New South Wales and I leave on amicable terms with the committee.”
“I hope the jockey club will continue to enjoy great success and there is nothing to stop the 100th Grafton Cup from being the highlight of the best carnival yet.”
Next year is the 100th running of the Grafton Cup and the New South Wales government has already pledged its support with grants now pushing the prizemoney levels to over $1 million.
There is a current push for Grafton to follow in the footsteps of Scone and Hawkesbury and have a stand alone Saturday meeting which would attract the best horses, jockeys and trainers and create a whole new atmosphere for the Carnival.
“I think it is going to get tougher, even with that increase of prizemoney, I think we need a bit more help than that,” Shelton said.
“I think the stand-alone meeting, more prizemoney, get the good jockeys up here and get more turnover.”
“Treat it as a city meeting, it gives the tracks down in Sydney a spell, have that one at Scone, put another on at Wagga and Grafton, it would work.”
And Clarence River Jockey Club chairman Green knows he and the board have a tough job ahead to compete with the metropolitan clubs and will work hard to regain the prestige that the Grafton carnival was well known for.