24 January 2024

A new plan for Marchmont Reserve hopes to make it into year-round community facility

| Claire Sams
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A photo of a field under a blue sky and some clouds

The Master Plan estimates the re-developed racecourse could bring $1 million to Yass each year. Photo: Ben Maguire.

Work on restoring a Yass Valley icon to its former glory is picking up speed – or, more accurately, moving into a gallop – for the horse-centred facility.

The restoration began several years ago and has included $150,000 in funding for the redevelopment of the reserve.

Part of that funding went towards developing a Master Plan for the site, which was recently released.

Marchmont Racecourse Trust chair Ben Maguire said the plan outlined how the site can be revamped so future generations can enjoy it.

“I became aware that in the last 10 years, at least, no one had been really been using the site, so it needed a bit of investment and a plan to tidy it up,” he said.

“A number of like-minded people applied to vacant positions on the trust, and together we’ve put together that plan.

“It’s a collective piece of work and it’s also had a lot of impact from the community.”

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Once the works are completed, it is estimated that the updated Marchmont Racecourse Reserve could bring in $1 million to Yass each year, according to the Master Plan.

“One of the key elements of the plan is to make it accessible for more people and for the whole year,” Mr Maguire said.

“At the moment, it gets used once a year for the annual Yass Picnic Races.

“Our plan is to use it 365 days a year.”

The Marchmont Racecourse Reserve sits on 33.7 hectares and has hosted the annual Yass Picnic Races, a well-known community event in the town.

However, Mr Maguire said currently the site lacks showers, toilets, catering facilities, camping spaces and formal car parking.

“It’s a lovely, lovely ground, but it doesn’t meet the expectations of running major events, because of the infrastructure,” he said.

Mr Maguire said the redevelopment would give the facilities – old and new – a second life.

“It’s 80 acres of community land – and right now, not much is being done with it,” he said.

“The potential events that can be run out there will bring a lot of people to the region.

But Mr Maguire said the redevelopment went beyond bringing money to local businesses.

“Upgrading the reserve helps to maintain the fabric of what we enjoy living here in Yass,” he said.

“There’s a lot of people moving to town – and that’s terrific, but if we want to maintain some sort of rural and country-style in the Valley, we need assets like this.

“This helps us to maintain that heritage that’s so important in the Yass Valley.”

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Mr Maguire said horses will remain a key focus of the site moving forward and the Master Plan including for supporting infrastructure, powered campsites, a dog trial arena, swabbing facilities, an announcer’s box and a caretaker’s residence.

“The site lends itself really well to equestrian-based sports,” he said.

“We’re focusing on equestrian sports – like camp draft, polo cross, pony club, show jumping, carriage driving, cutting.

“Those activities will complement the site, but we’re hoping it will be connected to the town via a walking trail so the community will be able to use it for their recreation, as well.”

Original Article published by Claire Sams on Riotact.

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