WARRNAMBOOL Racing Club last night launched the TAB May Racing Carnival, 42 days out from the event.
Chairman Des Roberts said the 2014 carnival contained many new initiatives but he rated the final of a $40,500 race named after former top local jockey Neville “Nifty” Wilson as a big winner.
“Nifty is not only an icon of Western District racing but racing at bigger levels, being the president of the Victoria Jockeys Assocation for more than 20 years,” Roberts said.
“He may not have won a Warrnambool Cup during his long career but he won lots of races at our carnival over many years.
“He won the South Western District Association premiership on 16 occasions and numerous group and listed winners during his 50-year career in the saddle.”
Terang will host two of the six races in the series with other races to be run at Donald, Warrnambool, Hamilton and Stawell in March and April before culminating in the final over 1700 metres on May 1.
Wilson said he was thrilled to have a race series named after him.
“I did a lot of riding at Terang, Hamilton, Stawell and Donald during my career but I just loved riding at Warrnambool, especially at the May carnival,” Wilson said.
“The Warrnambool May Racing Carnival is like the Flemington Spring Carnival to everyone in the Western District but on a lot smaller scale. I’m very honoured to have the series named after me.”
Roberts declared a futurity race to be run on the middle day of the carnival as another highlight for the three-day carnival.
“With all the bonuses on offer for the Futurity it equates to a $150,000 race for three-year-olds. We’re expecting to have a quality field with trainers coming from far and wide to take part in the 1400- metre race,” Roberts said. “The VOBIS Gold Strike race with its bonuses for two-year-olds on the opening day will also create a lot of interest among owners and trainers.”
Warrnambool hosts its first jumps race for the 2014 season today with a maiden hurdle over 3217 metres. Eight runners have accepted for the $20,000 race, which is the first of seven races to be run at 1pm.