By BRIDGET SCOTT AND DAVID NAGEL
PAKENHAM Racing Club has pencilled in Thursday 26 March 2015 as the date for its first race meeting at its magnificent new state-of-the-art facility in Tynong.
The release of the opening date was one of many highlights at the clubs’ well attended Annual General Meeting (AGM) last Wednesday, the last to be held at the current site on Racecourse Road. The clubs’ last race meeting at the track – that it first occupied in 1876 – will take place on Sunday 9 February next year when the club hosts the 2014 Centrebet Pakenham Cup.
Purchasers of the land, ISPT, will then take over the site for development.
The opening race meeting, roughly 15 months from now, will begin a plethora of racing for the club after recent approval and funding secured Pakenham as the site for Victoria’s second synthetic track, behind Geelong.
Pakenham will host 17 meetings to round out the 2014/15 season, which closes at the end of July, before hosting 40 meetings, consisting of 26 grass and 14 synthetic meetings in its first full season in 2015/16.
The club plans to hold the 2015 Pakenham Cup on Sunday 26 April and the first meeting on the synthetic track is scheduled for Tuesday 9 June. Night racing is also high on the clubs’ agenda as is an ongoing stand-alone Saturday race day in the spring.
PRC Life Member Michael Moore attended the AGM and conveyed the thoughts of many with his comments.
“As a life member of the club I would like to say thanks, from the members, to the committee, for the great work that has gone into this relocation,” he said.
“I remember being in the committee room and hearing Racing Victoria tell Pakenham that it would host just five race meetings in a season. Congratulations to all involved because now Pakenham will host more racing than any other track in Australia.”
The transition of trainers from Racecourse Road to Tynong was also addressed. Bad weather has caused a delay in construction of the Tynong complex… a delay that could extend for months… forcing local trainers to look for alternate training facilities until May next year. Pakenham Trainers Association President John Gunning said that while the short term pain was an inconvenience, the bigger picture far outweighed the negatives.
“It’s just so exciting to be involved in a project like this,” Gunning said.
“The club has been too helpful to the trainers, they realise this is our livelihood and have been open and honest and kept the trainers up to speed about all the developments. What a great opportunity we have as trainers to be able to secure an on-site allotment at a place that will have the very best training facilities and have 40 race meetings per year.”
Stage one of the 150-acre trainer allotment, the ‘Knight’s Court’ release, was launched by the club on Tuesday.
PRC chief executive Michael Hodge gave trainers a tour of the facility to outline where the allotments would be located. After presenting to Mornington, Cranbourne and Caulfield trainers recently, the tour gave visitors the chance, to see first-hand, the progress and development of the state-of-the-art facility in Tynong.
Mr Hodge said he was happy to see a great number of trainers turn out after hearing about the new trainer allotments.
“It’s a great indication of interest,” he said.
“This is the first time all these trainers have come here to see the new track.”
Mr Hodge said the addition of trainer allotments will be a big improvement on facilities at the previous track.
“These will be an enormous advancement on facilities and will continually have investment put into them,” he said.
“It’s a brand new world for trainers and will allow them to better train horses.”
Mr Hodge also said what a difference it will make for non-local trainers.
“For people outside, it will be a much better business model.”
He explained that potential trainers will have the opportunity to live alongside the track where they will work.
Local trainer and treasurer of the Pakenham Trainers Association Tom Scanlon said it will be a great opportunity for local trainers alike.
“It’s a world class racing track for locals,” he said.
“It’s better than what we have at Pakenham and will create a lot of employment opportunities.”
Mr Scanlon said it’s the first new racetrack since Bairnsdale was opened and will be great for surrounding towns such as Tynong and Nar Nar Goon.