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MP Andrew Falloon and South Canterbury Racing Club secretary-treasurer Kevin Fahey joined forces to get residents to sign a petition to keep the raceway. It was presented last week. PHOTO: THE COURIER FILES

2018 was an eventful year for South Canterbury. The Courier reporters Greta Yeoman, Claire Allison and Chris Tobin look back at some of the leading stories of the year’s papers.

The future of Phar Lap Raceway led the November 1 edition, as residents expressed concern over the possible closure of the Washdyke raceway.

Australian racing administrator John Messara proposed in October closing 20 tracks nationwide. Proceeds from the sale of freehold land owned by those clubs would go to New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing.

The racing club, which has held meetings in Timaru since March 1860, made a submission to the Department of Internal Affairs objecting to the Messara report’s recommendation that a thoroughbred racing licence not be issued for the raceway in 2022-23 and racing relocated to Riccarton or Ashburton.

By early November, more than 2300 people had signed a petition opposing the possible closure of Phar Lap.

South Canterbury Racing Club secretary-treasurer Kevin Fahey told The Courier in mid-December that there continued to be a good response by people wanting to sign the petition.

A total of 3600 people had signed by mid-December. The target was 5000.

“People don’t want to lose the opportunity of having gallops here in Timaru,” he said.

The petition was available at the race meeting at Phar Lap Raceway on December 28.

Rangitata MP Andrew Falloon was expected to present it to Parliament early this year.