MANAGER John Donnelly believes the Hamilton Racing Club is on a winner with the decision to switch its biggest meeting of the year to spring.
For the first time in more than 60 years, the club’s feature $60,000 Hamilton Cup (2200m) will be held tomorrow, just six months after it was last run in April.
Donnelly said the switch to spring had won support from Hamilton residents and businesses.
“It’s looking pretty good,” Donnelly said. “It’s a lot easier to sell, the public are more into the groove of racing and spring racing.”
He said pre-sold luncheon bookings were 150 up on those for the April running of the Hamilton Cup. “We just found it impossible to grow in that April timeframe,” he said.
He said Easter, school holidays, the start of the footy season, the timing of Warrnambool’s May carnival, distance from Melbourne and the beginning of what he described as winter weather had limited the development of the club’s biggest event.
“It’s a bit funny asking people to go to the well a second time but it (the move) has been well received,” he said. “We didn’t lose one of our sponsors and Centrebet signed up for another two years.”
The biggest issue is attracting people through the turnstiles tomorrow but with the prospect of improved weather and a major fashions on the field competition, he hopes a bigger crowd will watch the eight-race card than in April.
“I think in April we had about 1400 people. I would be happy to get a crowd at least 1700-1800. I would be over the moon if we got 2000.” He predicted the club might need a couple of years to build up the day but was confident it would grow.
“The townspeople are showing a lot more interest, they are up and about. It’s all looking good.
“I’m probably a bit disappointed in the fields, not the quality but the depth. The cup and the Hensleigh Handicap (1200m) have fallen away in depth.”