Winners and losers

June 02, 2018

Echuca Racing Club ceo Leigh Newton. Photo by Luke Hemer.

It is every racing club’s worst nightmare, but secretly Echuca Racing Club must be loving it.

Racing Victoria has announced Echuca has been given two more pick up meetings following the ongoing troubles with the Seymour track.

The extra races on Wednesday, June 20, and Thursday, July 19, bring the number of extra meets on the calendar to four, 15 in total in the 2017-18 season.

Echuca still has one more meeting of its own, on Saturday, July 7.

ERC chief executive Leigh Newton said while the circumstances were disappointing for the industry in general, Seymour in particular, it was also a confirmation of the high regard in which Echuca’s track was held.

‘‘We have run five meetings in 61 days between March and May and are getting a small break before the Seymour transfers start,’’ Newton said.

‘‘Being able to conduct transfer meetings sends a clear message to owners, trainers and jockeys that Echuca is a quality track and a good place to race their horses.

‘‘Much of that is a credit to our two-man track team — manager Anthony Pelly and his apprentice Bailey Wilson — who do such an outstanding job to maintain and deliver this well-performed track.’’

Seymour has lost another six meetings, scheduled to run between now and September.

The club has lost nine meetings this season, all transferred to other venues.

It comes after ongoing concerns about the track surface and, at its April meet, a number of horses were injured by clumps of turf being kicked up.

Independent testing has shown while the condition of the track has improved in recent weeks, further testing and works were needed for it to reach peak condition.

The latest report described the turf as stable but noted it had failed to retain moisture and nutrients, which had directly affected the root depth of the grass and made the divots worse.

Racing Victoria’s infrastructure and tracks executive general manager Jamie McGuinness said there was still work to be done to fully understand how to repair the track.

‘‘We need more work to understand the solutions required and the agronomists have recommended we take a conservative approach while conducting a variety of testing in coming months, in association with some immediate renovation works.’’

Newton said more meetings added value for the club’s members and sponsors as well as the wider community.

He said local trainers enjoyed racing their horses in Echuca and generally entered more than they would have if the meetings were elsewhere.

‘‘Just as valuable, trainers from across Victoria and NSW have shown enormous confidence in the Echuca track by continuing to come and increasing the number of horses they run here,’’ Newton said.

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