PERFECT weather and a strong field added up to a record crowd at Friday’s Wodonga Gold Cup.
Roughly 7000 turned out for the Cup, the third staged since the Melbourne Cup holiday was moved to accommodate Wodonga’s premier race.
Racing Wodonga general manager Tom O’Connor said it had been a huge success.
“It’s been massive, it’s a bit overwhelming to be honest,” he said.
“The city has spoken, it’s fantastic the way people have come out, the way they’ve dressed, the way they’re behaving.
“It’s a credit to everyone and great for the community of Wodonga.”
Despite the scratchings of marquee entrants Tashbeeh and Profit Share, Mr O’Connor said the race was an overall success.
Michael Moroney-trained gelding Loyalty Man ($3) was first past the post.
“It was a close finish, well run, everyone had a chance,” Mr O’Connor said.
“The racing was really good … and the support that we’ve had from the trainers for today has been really good.”
Victorian racing minister Martin Pakula was on hand to enjoy the event, and put a cherry on top of an already good day for the turf club with the announcement of a $5200 upgrade to the owners’ rooms.
The Wodonga Turf Club and Country Racing Victoria will kick in a further $2600 each to bring the total funding figure up to just over $10,000.
“We recognise how important country racing is to the fabric of those communities,” Mr Pakula said.
“More than that, it’s really important to our regional economy.
“In this area alone, country racing is worth $40 million in economic activity, it’s worth more than 350 jobs.
“That’s why we’re happy to support events like the Wodonga Gold Cup.
“If you’re going to have a vibrant country racing scene you need owners to invest, and if they invest you need to look after them.
“These little things make them feel welcome, they’re going to be more inclined to make sure we’ve got plenty of product moving forward for country racing.”