Turf Club back in the saddle

November 25, 2021 BY

They’re back: Competitors return to the mounting yard after the seventh race. Photo: ALISTAIR FINLAY

A FEW weeks out from the Sportsbet Ballarat Cup things were looking questionable.

Metro Melbourne was in lockdown, other local government areas – including Ballarat – were yo-yoing in and out of tight restrictions, and when people could move around things were highly limited.

Fast forward to last Saturday and as glorious sunshine bathed Dowling Forest, close to 5000 people celebrated Ballarat Turf Club’s biggest race day.

“It did go from zero to 5000 pretty quickly,” said Turf Club CEO Belinda Glass.

“It was only about five weeks out that we had confirmation via Racing Victoria that it looked like we could have a crowd. We were uncertain if it would be 25 per cent, 50 per cent or capped at a certain number.

“For us, we’d normally have eight months of planning, so to pull all that together in the space of only five weeks was pretty demanding for all of the staff.”

As race goers headed trackside, whether in the members, at a marques or as general admission, Ms Glass said the day went incredibly well.

“The weather was close to perfect,” she said. “You don’t want it to be too hot, you don’t want people at risk of sunstroke or drinking too much in the heat.

“We were fortunate enough not to have any major incident on course at all and it was very well-behaved crowd.

“It was quite relaxed feeling, more so than in the past, which was great. For a lot of people this was the first time they’d caught up and friendship or family groups, or even work groups.”