COUNTRY Racing Victoria will back a plan to upgrade Warrnambool’s Brierly Paddock to guarantee steeplechase races can be run on the famous course during winter.
Warrnambool Racing Club has been forced to run its last three steeplechase races on the course proper in July and August instead of using Brierly Paddock due to the heavy ground in the paddocks. The club is confident drainage works will fix the problem which has plagued the club for years.
The Standard believes CRV chairman Lance McMillan, chief executive Scott Whiteman and vice-chairman Neil McRae will meet Racing Minister Denis Napthine and his racing adviser Patrick Clancy to discuss the proposal and other country issues today. McMillan said the drainage works were an urgent priority. “I would say our main item will be about fixing Brierly Paddock,” McMillan said.
“I’m worried that bad weather may break in early April one year and it would put the Grand Annual and Brierly steeplechases at risk.
“The Warrnambool May Racing Carnival is the showpiece for country racing in Victoria.
“We’ll try and work through different ways that we may be able to get some funding for the works.
“CRV will also have talks regarding the issue with a Racing Victoria steering committee on September 9.
“The works centre on new drainage and lifting the course in Brierly Paddock.”
WRC chief executive John Green said the club was delighted with news of CRV’s support and plans had been drawn up for the upgrade. “It’s wonderful to hear Lance is on board,” Green said.
“The bottom corner in the Brierly Paddock just gets so wet we can’t race there in the winter months.
“The first part of the paddock contains so much low-lying ground.
“There is no drainage in that section. We’ve got plans drawn up for what is needed to fix the problem. Part of the plan is to raise the track itself in the Brierly Paddock and to put drains in place so the water will not be just lying in the paddocks.
“Our members have said for years they want to see jumps races run in Brierly instead of on the course proper over the winter months.”
No steeplechase is programmed for the club’s meeting next Monday.
Two hurdle races are on the eight-race card.