Harness racing returns to Maitland Showground on Sunday with a special memorial race in honour of long-time volunteer Maureen Mordue.
Race five the Maureen Mordue Memorial is the feature race of Maitland Harness Club’s 10-race meeting.
Gozo Pearl, trained by Mordue’s daughter Kristine Jackson, will be the sentimental favourite in the race and takes in recent good form finishing third last start at Newcastle.
Mordue, who died from cancer in November last year, had been in and around Maitland Harness Racing Club since the 1970s.
She helped establish and run the Newcastle Maitland Mini Trots for at least two decades and was on the club committee for 17 years.
“We couldn’t think of a better way to honour her memory,” club secretary Wayne Smith said.
“It would be marvellous if her daughter Kristine’s horse can get up and win.”
Smith said Sunday’s meeting was the first of five the club would be running through to April.
The first race starts at 5.11pm to avoid the heat and the final race is scheduled for 10.02 pm.
“We’re hoping the Sunday evening format will attract a lot of families, particularly to the early races,” Smith said.
“Harness racing has always been a really family friendly event, particularly at Maitland.
“We’re pretty wrapped because it will our first meeting that the refurbished grandstand will be open for fans.
“We hope people will take the opportunity to come along and see it finished.
“The official opening is along the track, but it really has come up a treat and it really adds to the atmosphere.”
Smith said the betting ring had been upgraded as part of the grandstand work and the showground was back to its best.
Smith said Maitland Harness Club had been fortunate in its allocation of meetings.
He said in addition to Sunday’s opener it had been allocated two Saturday and two Friday night meetings.
The next meeting at Maitland following Sunday’s races is on a Saturday night.
There will then be two back-to-back Friday night meetings for the ever popular Inter City Pace.
The Inter City Pace heats will be held on December 30 with the final on January 6.
The final meeting will be held on Easter Saturday, which fall on April 15 next year.
“We have again done really well in our allocation of race nights,” Smith said.
“The two Friday nights for the Inter City Pace maintains its prominence as one of the most popular events on the harness racing calendar.
“It’s great for the fans and great for the club to maintain its profile.
“To back it up with the two Saturday meetings is excellent as well. A lot of other clubs would love to have those slots.”