Sport

Racing begins its new season at ERC

By Andrew Johnston

The grass is cut, the birds are singing, the air is fresh.

Spring has arrived, and with it comes the new season of racing for Echuca Racing Club.

Thursday will be the first meeting of the season for the club, before jump outs take place the following day.

Club general manager Garry Armstrong said he was expecting a great day of racing, with the track in excellent condition as the season begins.

“We've had strong nominations for Thursday — 473 for our eight programmed races,” Armstrong said.

“After our heavy winter racing schedule, the track has been given six weeks to recover and is in fantastic order.”

Armstrong said the track would be rated near the good 4 range.

“The meeting is highlighted by a bench mark 70 race over the Melbourne Cup distance of 3200 m,” he said.

“This race is a lead up qualifier for the Jericho Cup that is held at Warrnambool, over the 4600 m on November 15, which has $300,000 in prizemoney.”

Unfortunately, Victoria's COVID-19 restrictions have not adjusted enough to allow a crowd, which Armstrong admits is a major disappointment for the club.

However, he says the delay to return to the track will not impact on the pockets of members.

“The messaging from Racing Victoria is telling us that this (no crowds) will most likely stay this way through all of October as well,” Armstrong said.

“With this in mind, the ERC committee will finalise the 2020-21 memberships, with this information to be forwarded to ERC members in the next week.”

And with Friday's jump outs will come the debut of another youngster to the sport in caller Isaac Jantzen, who won a competition to commentate the races.

“Friday will see ERC hold jump outs, with trainers from Kyneton, Bendigo, Tatura and Echuca invited to bring their horses and trial them over 900 m,” Armstrong said.

“The ERC’s jump outs will be videoed and the ERC, through its Facebook page, invited ‘budding’ race callers to audition by sending through their best race calling effort.

“After working through these auditions, a young enthusiastic caller, Isaac, will make his race calling debut calling Friday's trials.

“All of this action will be loaded up onto the ERC’s website.”