Booze ban on champs’ night

Problems with people “pre-loading” before last year’s Grins Night of Champions at Cambridge Raceway has prompted officials to put a temporary liquor ban in place for next month’s event.

The grassed paddock to the east of Cambridge Raceway and a part of Taylor Street will be off limits to alcohol from 4pm to 11pm on April 12.

Signs advertising the event go up in Victoria Street, Cambridge. Photo: Mary Anne Gill.

A temporary ban enables police to assess whether patrons have  had too much alcohol to drink before they go into the track, and gives them more power to prevent preloading.

They can also stop side loading by removing alcohol. Side-loading is defined as consuming alcohol from a store while travelling to or queuing to enter a venue.

Waipā Licensing Authority inspector Maddison Berry told district councillors this week pre and side loading caused a problem last year. The News was at the event and saw patrons’ behaviour, prompting the call up of extra police resources from Hamilton and a 50-strong security contingent.

A record 4000 people attended which saw six-year-old champion pacer Copy That take out the $1 million feature slot race slashing the 2200m track record in the process in a time of 2m 36.3 secs.

Karāpiro couple Wayne and Fiona Keoghan won $50,000 in Cambridge Raceway’s sweepstake after drawing Copy That, driven by Blair Orange. The horse’s owners Merv and Meg Butterworth won $450,000.

Cambridge raceway manager Dave Branch.

Raceway chief executive Dave Branch said he would undertake a thorough debrief and at a pre-event meeting with police, a licensing inspector and a delegate for the Medical Officer of Health, indicated he would be applying for a temporary liquor ban.

“Preloading increases the risk for attendees entering the event already influenced by alcohol. The aim of preventing preloading and side loading is to limited intoxication and reduce alcohol related harm,” said Berry.

A liquor ban gives police the power to search a person for alcohol and then seize, confiscate, or destroy it. Anyone knowingly disobeying a ban can be fined or arrested. Police must first warn people who are in breach of a ban and give them the opportunity to either leave the area or cease drinking and/or carrying alcohol.

Driver Blair Orange celebrates as Copy That takes out the $1 million The Race, by Grins, Photo: Trish Dunell.

A similar temporary liquor ban at Karāpiro Domain for big events has been successful in reducing problems associated with consumption of alcohol on the site.

Sweepstake winner Wayne Keoghan and his wife Fiona gave Copy That some encouragement before last year’s race. Photo: Supplied.

Meanwhile the Keoghans have snapped up the same 232 number which won them $50,000 last year in the Raceway’s $100,000 TAB Trot Sweepstake.

“We had a fantastic time last year and couldn’t believe our luck when we drew the favourite,” said Wayne, who had not been to the races for four years and had never heard of Copy That.

“Even when we saw Copy That in front, we didn’t think he’d stay there all the way.

“After the races we went back to party with about 20 friends, it was quite a night.”

The Keoghans shared the winnings with their sons, some went into mortgage payments, and they topped up their holiday account, which paid for a recent four-week motor home trip round the South Island.

The sweepstake is limited to 2000 tickets and the money raised will help fund the $575,000 TAB Trot which promises to be the most exciting race run here in years.

The eight-horse race features the four best trotters from Australia – Just Believe, Callmethebreeze, Arcee Phoenix and Queen Elida – plus New Zealand’s top pair of Oscar Bonavena and Muscle Mountain.

Copy That in the winners’ circle. Photo: Angelique Bridson.

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