Woodford Racing Club officials will campaign to retain its popular cup meeting on New Year’s Eve after a record attendance on December 31.
Club president Peter Haynes said it would lobby Racing Victoria for a New Year’s Eve date again after it was popular with visitors and residents who had the day off.
“We had over 5000 people and over 1000 kids,” Mr Haynes said. “It was probably the biggest family fun day for Country Racing Victoria so far, so we were pretty pleased with it.”
The Woodford Cup is held between Christmas and New Year and the date varies each year.
But crowd numbers for the day were estimated at 5200, up 2600 patrons on last year’s meeting.
The numbers came as a surprise to the club which was criticised for a lack of cold refreshments, understaffing and locked toilets at the December 31 meeting, held at the Warrnambool Racecourse.
“We had a really successful New Year’s Eve meeting,” he said.
“We had a few issues, the crowd was much bigger than we anticipated but that’s a good problem to have.
“There’s a couple of issues we think we can overcome. We’d like to grow it but we also want to keep that family Christmas New Year celebration going and combine that with a really good racing day. It’s the perfect combination for us.”
Mr Haynes said while New Year’s Eve was on a Monday this year, the day could again prove popular with racegoers and families.
“We’ve got a chance to run with a New Year’s Eve event again next year. We’re not going to be able to do it every year because of how the dates fall.”
He said Racing Victoria’s 2018-19 calendar hadn’t yet been finalised.
“When the race meetings come out we get a chance to talk about the dates that have been allocated but at this stage we’re still waiting for them to make the call (regarding the calendar).
“Because of the success of this year’s New Year’s Eve meeting we’d like to think maybe we’d be able to get it again. We would like to do it if it’s at all possible but they’re in the process of working out the dates.”
Warnambool and Woodford Racing Club chief Peter Downs said the first draft calendar had been released and was hopeful of securing the new date.
“With the success of the Woodford Cup in 2017 we will try our best to get a 2018 race day on New Year’s Eve,” Mr Downs said.
“We will work with Racing Victoria and Country Racing Victoria to see what we can organise. We hope to have more information in the next two to four weeks.”