It’s taken four years and countless hours of work from an army of tireless volunteers and committee members but racing is set to return to historic York on Friday. RWWA’s Julio Santarelli spoke with York Chairman, Pat Flyn in the busy lead up.
JS: It’s been four long years Pat and you are almost there with the return meeting just days away; what are your thoughts and feelings heading into Friday.
PF: Feeling a few nerves and a little on edge but it’s mainly all the silly little issues you worry about like catering because the big ticket items are done and dusted and we can’t do much more.
JS: How did you personally become involved in leading the charge to rebuild the club?
PF: I went for a break during a committee meeting and when I returned I was voted in as chairman. But seriously I wanted to get involved because I could see the importance of York Racing and although it’s been a tedious process I’m excited by what lies ahead.
JS: You and your committee encountered many challenges along the way; did you ever think you would get to this point?
PF: At one stage I was ready to walk as I had enough and I did contemplate whether it was worth all the trouble, but we then got funding from the government and assistance from RWWA and it encouraged me to stick it out.
JS: Did it take a personal and professional toll on you?
PF: There was a lot of pressure being the front man and I basically gave up work and training horses for the better part of three years so I will be looking for a job on Monday!
JS: Apart from the work of your committee you couldn’t have done it without the support of the local community.
PF: When you put a dollar value on the volunteers it will be in the hundreds of thousands of dollars. I know of one contractor who wouldn’t want to be named who cut $80,000 from his own bill.
JS: What is the importance of York to the Western Australian racing community?
PF: It’s important to have another track as an option to relieve pressure on other clubs but perhaps more importantly it’s only an hour from Perth so you don’t have the travelling factor. Historically and for reasons that I can’t really explain turnover is also very good on our meetings as well.
JS: How do you think the track will play?
PF: I think the dynamics of the track have changed and it won’t be leader dominated as it had been traditionally and if you have a half decent horse they will be able to make ground.
JS: You have strong numbers and representation for Friday’s meeting?
PF: It’s a huge surprise but I think there is a wave of positivity and many of the participants have been swayed to attend. As long as they race safely and the track plays true they can go away happy and give a positive message to the racing community.
JS: Has it all been worth the hassle?
PF: I’m from a third generation racing family and it’s in my blood and a passion. I didn’t want to see it go away and you have to remember there is an abundance of thoroughbred and harness trainers in the area.
JS: Whatever happens on Friday it’s only the first step in your mind?
PF: There are minor bits and pieces that aren’t ready but you wait until another six months. I just want the trainers and jockeys to notice and appreciate how much we have achieved and the improvements that will come.
JS: What will you be doing after the last on Friday?
PF: I reckon I will be speaking Swahili by about seven o’clock! There will be a heap of contractors and we are going to party and let our hair down.
The first of eight races gets underway at 1:24pm with the last at 5:30pm