OWNERS, jockeys, trainers and horse-racing enthusiasts were sufficiently primed for a week of racing after enjoying a ‘Breakfast with the Stars’ event on Monday morning.
More than 100 gathered at Simon’s Waterfront in Warrnambool to officially launch the start of the city’s annual three-day long event.
The morning function attracted race-goers from as far as Brisbane, Perth and New Zealand.
Special guest, former premier Denis Napthine, said the May Racing Carnival was an occasion that benefited the whole city.
“The shops will be full this week and the streets will have plenty of visitors,” he said. “The May Racing Carnival really puts Warrnambool on the map.”
The May Racing Carnival really puts Warrnambool on the map.Denis Napthine
Mr Napthine then took the opportunity to encourage the industry to join the debate about horses on the beach.
“Have a look out there,” he said pointing to Warrnambool’s main beach. “There should be more of horses on the beach.”
He said the horse racing industry brought jobs to the city and improved the local economy.
“It’s not just about racing,” he said. “You need people to run the horsing industry, lots of people.
“It’s a bloody big beach. Surely we can manage it.”
Warrnambool Racing Club’s Peter Downs also joined the call for action.
“Next time there’s a chance to have your say please do so,” he said.
Politics aside, Mr Downs moved on to the infrastructure of the racecourse.
“The updated works at the track will be ready by Tuesday,” he said. “The stewards have said the grass is looking good with recent rain and sun bringing warmth.”
He was confident in the courses’ development.
“It’s the best carnival in Australia and it’s looking a million bucks down there now,” he said.
May Racing Carnival Ambassador Brett Scott spoke of his fondness for the event.
“My first trip here was in 1994. I rode second. I’ve been coming ever since,” he said. “It’s a great event.”
Irish jumps jockey Shane Jackson agreed. “It’s the only time of year you get the buzz from the crowds. You can hear them through the race,” he said. “Warrnambool’s unique like that.”
Warrnambool trainer Jarrod McLean was thrilled to be celebrating the eve of another carnival.
“It’s a big operation. We take each day as it comes and I love it,” he said.
Jockey Melissa Julius, who recently returned from a Racing Victoria scholarship in England, was also looking forward to the carnival. “We’ll have a really big week,” she said. “We’ve had great success this season and will continue on from last year’s success.”