By Jade Lawton
THE Devine Communities Pakenham Cup was held in perfect weather at the Pakenham Racecourse on Sunday.
About 4000 race-goers enjoyed the warm, sunny day – a world apart from the heavy rain and hail that lashed the course, and the rest of Melbourne, earlier this month.
Pakenham Racing Club chief executive Michael Hodge said the storm created perfect conditions on the track.
“That just proved to be a godsend. That torrential rain really enhanced the track preparation and was instrumental in producing a great racing surface for the day,” he said.
It was a day for locals both on and off the field, with Pakenham trainer Julien Welsh taking back-to-back wins with Mighty Blitz and the aptly-named Very Fast.
Pakenham residents Marlene Burhop and Breanne Fanning also won separate titles in the popular Fashions on the Field competition.
“This is a real highlight for our local racing community,” Mr Hodge said.
He thanked Devine Communities for their support of the Cup Day, which he said was a true community event.
“They did a fantastic job and were a huge part of the day. This is the first year of a three-year partnership and we are delighted with what they have done, and I know they found it really successful.”
Senior Sergeant Alan McCarthy, of Pakenham Police, said the crowd was well-behaved.
The only incident was an altercation between two men, a 40-year-old from Pakenham and a 46-year-old from Pakenham.
Sen Sgt McCarthy said the men were known to each other and did not require hospital treatment.
A number of witnesses have made statements to police. The racing club’s next feature race is Sunday 23 May, when the $75,000 Grand Great Southern Steeple, usually held in Mornington, comes to town.
Pakenham is hosting the event because of reconstruction works at the Mornington track.
The steeple, which offers the biggest jumps purse ever seen in Pakenham, will be supported by the $40,000 MJ Bourke hurdle.
“This is a chance for jumps enthusiasts to make a statement about the future of jumps racing, and I would encourage everyone to come along,” Mr Hodge said.
By Jade Lawton