By Ben Hope
PAKENHAM Racing Club chief executive Michael Hodge is looking forward to a bumper month of racing at the club, starting this Friday with free admission to the Sandown Lodge race day.
“This year we are celebrating the 25th anniversary of the association between the Sandown Lodge and the Pakenham Racing Club,” Hodge said.
“The club decided to open the gate with free admission to encourage as many people to get down to the race.”
The feature race for the day is the Sandown Lodge Fillies and Mares Handicap, the race Alf Dickson and Angus Armanasco first sponsored in 1985, beginning the longest surviving sponsorship in Victorian Racing.
“The amount of nominations for the eight-race program is extremely strong which bodes well for a competitive race card,” Hodge said.
Pakenham trainer Matthew Leek is hoping for a home ground advantage for his horses Amelijo and Flakey Dove who will both be ridden by Andrew Mallyon on Friday.
“I love racing at Pakenham. It’s also a big bonus that the horses don’t have to travel very far so we can hopefully get a home ground advantage,” Leek said.
“The track is always in beautiful condition so you also know it will be a safe run.”
Leek is happy with the performance of his six-year-old mare Amelijo who will run in over 1008 metres.
“Amelijo has had two runs in preparation for Pakenham as she is a horse that takes a little bit to get fit,” Leek said.
“I was really happy with the way she pulled up in her last race at Moe. Despite running seventh, the other aspects of her run were encouraging.”
Five-year-old mare Flakey Dove should also have a good chance in the Fillies and Mares 1314 metre Maiden Plate after placing second and third from her two career starts.
“This will be her first run after a spell and she is looking good,” Leek said.
The following Friday, 12 February, the club will also host its annual members’ day and all members are invited to enjoy complimentary hospitality in the committee room.
The inaugural Cardinia Beaconhills Golf Links Race day will cap off the racing for the month on Sunday 28 February before the Devine Communities $100,000 Pakenham Cup on Sunday 14 March.
The Pakenham Cup is included as a feature race and an official part of the Racing Industry’s Melbourne Festival of Racing.
Hodge said it is an important milestone for a country club to be included in the festival of racing.
“The club is proud of the recognition afforded to the cup by the racing industry,” he said.
“There will be plenty of kids’ activities and we are encouraging families and the community to come down and enjoy the racing.
“The Cup meeting provides over $250,000 of stake money which will guarantee the best of quality racing in this region.”
Anyone who still needs to book a race package or mini marque for any of the race days should contact the club on 5941 1207 to secure a prime position.
By Ben Hope