IT may host only one meeting a year, but the Dunkeld Racing Club is preparing for record numbers for its cup day on November 17.
Almost three months out, revenue from pre-ticket sales and marquee packages are up more than $20,000 on the same time last year.
The racecourse, set at the foot of the magnificent Grampians, now hosts one of the iconic race days on the Australian racing calendar.
Experienced racing administrator Lisa Evans – who has replaced Karen Van Kempen in the role as the manager of Dunkeld – says she has been gobsmacked by the popularity of the race day.
“I must admit I’ve never been to the races at Dunkeld, but I’ve heard all about it,” Evans said.
“I’ve been quite amazed with the interest in the event.
“We put our packages on line in May compared to early July, and we’ve had lots of inquiries.
“I’ve found the interest has come from all over Victoria and interstate.
“People just want to enjoy the day at one of the most picturesque racecourses in Australia.
“I’ve got to give a lot of credit to Karen.
“She’s done a great job in putting in the foundations for the meeting.”
Van Kempen, who helped the once-a-year race day increase in popularity from 4000 patrons in 2003 to 11,000 in 2017, stood down from her role due to personal reasons.
She was also the manager at Camperdown and Terang Racing clubs but has stood down from the job at Terang.
Applications for the job at Terang closed last week, with six applicants for the club manager role.
It’s expected the successful applicant – who will oversee management, administration, sales and marketing – will be announced in the next three weeks.
Terang has also been on the lookout for a curator after Beau Hayden took up a role with Racing Victoria as track manager, overseeing courses across the western district from Colac to Edenhope and up into the Wimmera.
The club is hopeful of making an appointment in the next few weeks.
TOUGH Orford jumper Mannertone looms as a likely starter in the $350,000 Grand National Steeplechase at Ballarat on Sunday, after recording a third placing in a restricted steeplechase at Warrnambool last Thursday.
Trainer Anne McGrath said she was delighted with Mannertone’s third placing, which came on the back of a jumping win at Bendigo last month.
“It was a very good run,” McGrath said.
“I don’t think running the steeplechase race on the course proper at Warrnambool suited Mannertone.
“I have got the two options at Ballarat – the Grand National or a restricted steeplechase.
“He’s going to get a lot of weight in the restricted steeplechase, so I’ve got a leaning to run in the National.
“It’s going to be a crackerjack field in the National.
“I’ll wait until Thursday before making a final decision.
“But at this stage, that’s the way I’m looking at going down with Mannertone.”
The 10-year-old is no stranger to the all jumps race day at Ballarat.
He won the restricted ‘chase at the meeting in 2016 and failed to finish the course in last year’s Grand National Steeplechase.
Meanwhile, champion jumps jockey Steven Pateman is hoping to win his fourth Grand National Steeplechase this Sunday when he rides Sea King in the 4500 metre race.
Pateman said Sea King will be improved following minor placings in the Mosstropper and Crisp Steeplechases.
“Sea King’s runs in the Mosstropper and the Crisp were excellent,” Pateman said.
“My bloke loves wet tracks. Wells is the one to beat but my bloke should be in the finish.
“We’re going to meet Wells better on the weights in the Grand National which is going to really help my chances.
“I would love to add another Grand National Steeplechase win to my record.”
Pateman’s Grand National Steeplechase winners are Liquid Lunch and Bashboy on two occasions.
APPRENTICE jockey Teo Nugent pleaded guilty to a careless riding charge at Moe on Saturday.
Stewards outed Nugent following his ride on Black Mary from midnight on August 24.
The stewards were of the view the incident was in the mid-range category and took into account his guilty plea, his recent record and not to make the penalty imposed too excessive.
Nugent rode Enigman to victory for his boss Ciaron Maher at Cranbourne on Sunday.
THE installation of new mounting yard and horse stall railings at Terang will start in October.
Works will be completed for Terang’s first meeting in the 2018-19 season on November 23.
THOROUGHBRED Racing South Australia stewards have transferred the meeting scheduled for Penola this Sunday to Naracoorte.
With the transfer, the distance of some races have changed.
Stewards will monitor the racing surface at Naracoorte, as rain has been forecast for later in the week.