Full house for Pakenham’s new track as jockeys heap praise on surface   Leave a comment

Full house for Pakenham’s new track as jockeys heap praise on surface

Damien Oliver, who rode a double, was quick to label the carpet-like turf surface and the

Damien Oliver, who rode a double, was quick to label the carpet-like turf surface and the layout of the track as one of the best racecourses in Australia. Picture: Jason Sammon Source: News Limited

HISTORY was made on Thursday when Pakenham Racing Club’s new multi-million racecourse opened — but for several scary minutes no-one was sure how many people were going to witness the historic first race.

The satellite transmission van arrived late at the $72 million complex and it was only three minutes before the opening race that the action went live to air.

But according to the jockey and the trainers, the wait was worth it.

Damien Oliver, who rode a double, was quick to label the carpet-like turf surface and the layout of the track as one of the best racecourses in Australia.

“It is just brilliant, it’s fantastic,” Oliver said.

“It is a great layout and has a brilliant surface. You couldn’t ask for a better track and it’s going to attract good horses for sure and everyone gets their chance.

“They can come from the front, they can come from behind. I’d go far as to say it’s probably one of the best tracks in Australia.”

Runners contest Pakenham Race Club’s second race official race. Picture: Jason Sammon

Runners contest Pakenham Race Club’s second race official race. Picture: Jason Sammon Source: News Limited

Brad Rawiller, who also rode a double, echoed Oliver’s glowing assessment of the 2400m track.

“We have seen them coming from everywhere and it seems to be holding up well as the day has gone on,” he said.

Cranbourne trainer Robbie Griffiths and Mark Zahra guaranteed their piece of history by combining to win the first race — a maiden over 1000m — with filly Faction.

“It’s a very big moment to be part of history and it’s very exciting,” Griffiths said.

The winning filly is part owned by global powerhouse Coolmore and Griffiths said it was good to give racing.com Park some instant international recognition.

“It’s a big moment with me because the connections are very big in racing and it’s great to be part of history,” he said.

Zahra, who also won the second race for Colin and Cindy Alderson on My Poppette, described the turf surface of the 2400m track as being like carpet.

“It was great to come here and win the first race,” Zahra said.

Iron Spider, with jockey Noel Callow on-board, passes the finish post to win the fourth.

Iron Spider, with jockey Noel Callow on-board, passes the finish post to win the fourth. Picture: Jason Sammon Source:News Limited

“The track is amazing and it’s a great shape — it’s a nice big track.

“The surface is like carpet.”

About 5000 people were at the meeting which produced one glitch when the big screen, vital to the big track, failed to work until the second last race.

The turf track is the biggest in Australia and has a tough .75m incline in the long home straight.

A 2000m Polytrack will be open for racing on May 26 and combined with the turf track, Pakenham will host a minimum of 40 meetings a year.

Funding is still being sought for the $10 million lighting for Pakenham’s planned Thursday night racing.

Flying Aurora salutes as one of Damien Oliver’s two winners on the opening day. Picture:

Flying Aurora salutes as one of Damien Oliver’s two winners on the opening day. Picture: Jason Sammon Source: News Limited

Racing Minister Martin Pakula, who was at Thursday’s official opening, praised former Liberal Racing Minister Denis Napthine for his government’s involvement in the project before losing power. He said he a decision would soon be whether the government would provide funding for the lighting.

He said Racing Victoria was in the final process of providing a funding case to his government.

“And I would expect to be briefed on that in the next two weeks and will be making a decision on that shortly thereafter,” Pakula said.

“I will wait until I get the business case and there might be a few questions but certainly the notion of a third night racing venue is one that Racing Victoria supports very strongly.”

Pakula said it wouldn’t be cheap to build the lights but if the business case stacks-up, the club and RV has every reason to be confident.

Faction with jockey Mark Zahra in the mounting yard after they combined to win the first

Faction with jockey Mark Zahra in the mounting yard after they combined to win the first ever race at the new venue. Picture: Jason Sammon Source: News Limited

Originally published as Glowing praise for new track’s debut

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Posted March 27, 2015 by belesprit09 in Uncategorized

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