TWO kilometres of new fencing will be installed at the Warrnambool racecourse to help safeguard the historic May Racing Carnival.
Ahead of the first jumps race of the season in Warrnambool today and with this year’s Grand Annual Steeplechase on May 3 offering a record $250,000 in prizemoney, Warrnambool Racing Club chief executive John Green said the carnival was expected to bring $20 million to the region.
“Over the three days we’re expecting about 30,000 people,” he said.
Mr Green said the decision to install the fence demonstrated the club was more than willing to go above and beyond industry standards.
The $170,000 works will include two kilometres of fencing and gates that will enclose the club’s internationally-famous steeplechase course.
A WorkSafe investigation was prompted after the horse Banna Strand leapt over a fence on Tozer Road and into a crowd of onlookers during the Grand Annual Steeplechase last year. Mr Green said after the investigation and spectator safety review the club put in place measures to avoid a similar incident.
He said at the end of the jumps racing season the club took the initiative to install the additional fencing, which was above the industry safety standards. “We’re more than happy to go beyond the minimum requirements,” he said.
“It’s to not only safeguard the public but also to continue the 140-year event.”
The club hopes to have the fence erected by the May Racing Carnival
At the carnival’s launch last night, Minister for Racing and member for South West Coast Denis Napthine said the state government would contribute $57,500, along with $115,000 from Country Racing Victoria and Racing Victoria.
Unfortunately, with the May Racing Carnival coinciding with the release of the state budget, Dr Napthine said it was a bitter blow that he would be unable to attend.
“It’s very frustrating but Parliament comes first,” Dr Napthine said.
He said the state government and the Victorian racing industry was committed to safety around racecourses for spectators, horses and all involved in Warrnambool jumps and flat racing.
“It was extremely disappointing to see last year’s event marred by a terrible, freak incident,” he said. The carnival runs from May 1-3.