Among the punting and frivolity, Wodonga Cup had a serious message this year, with the final race asking members of the crowd to be responsible and consider who their drinking might be hurting.
Wodonga Turf Club general manager Tom O’Connor said after hearing about Wodonga Council and VicHealth’s ‘Who’s it gonna hurt?’ campaign, organisers approached council to be a part of the final race.
Mr O’Connor said Wodonga Gold Cup was a day for enjoying yourself, but it was important people were responsible.
The ‘Who’s it gonna hurt?’ campaign was launched by VicHealth and Wodonga Council this week.
“The day itself is about people feeling they can come enjoy themselves, have great day but also feel safe and ensure they are responsible with their behaviours on the day and look out for each other,” he said.
“We thought [the campaign] was a great fit for our day and certainly linking into the last race for us is about ensuring people coming onto the course on the day remember to be responsible for their actions and also look out for each other.”
Last year, Wodonga Cup celebrations were marred by a number of alcohol-fuelled violent incidents.
In one incident, revellers threw plastic chairs at each other during a fight while other patrons had to be dragged out by security guards.
Michael Rose, the star of a short documentary as part of ‘Who’s it gonna hurt?’, congratulated the winner of the final race.
The video follows his life as he changed his alcohol consumption from about eight drinks a night, and a slab on Saturday, to next to nothing.
He said it wasn’t about making huge changes, but taking small steps and rethinking your next drink.
Wodonga deputy mayor Kat Bennett said the Turf Club had been very proactive and it was great Mr Rose was able to attend and share his message.
She said a ‘Who’s it going to hurt?’ video would play throughout the event.
“They actually came to us and said look, what can we be doing to reduce that harmful alcohol, not one or two drinks, but that harmful consumption,” she said.
“That’s so proactive and it’s great.”
Wodonga Taxi’s Scott Cowie said taxi drivers had a massive day ensuring patrons got home safely.
He said all the city’s 16 taxis were in use on the day, with hundreds of trips expected.
“It’s pretty much our busiest day, along with the AFL grand final and new year’s eve,” he said.
“It’s a win for drivers as well financially, but they get through the night and get everyone home safely without incident.”
Mr O’Connor said crowds were mostly well behaved at the Cup and he thanked security and police.
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