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Provincial Horse Racing - Courses & Feature Races
Geelong - Victoria
Racing in Geelong dates back to the 1840’s and took place at several locations including nearly 50 years on the flood prone flats beside the Barwon River. In 1907 the current site on Breakwater Rd. was chosen and the first official meeting was held in 1908 on St. Patricks Day. The highlight of the year is the Geelong Cup, run on the grass track in October, which is becoming a popular step to qualifying for the Melbourne Cup in November. In 2008 Bauer ran second in the Melbourne Cup after winning at Geelong, the 2010 winner Americain went on to victory in the Melbourne Cup and in 2011 another French trained runner Dunaden won the Geelong Cup before winning Australia's richest race on the first Tuesday in November.
Characteristics: The grass track at Geelong is very fair with two long straights and two tight corners giving all horses a chance in the long final straight to make up ground if they are good enough. The course has 2 tracks, in 2008 they opened the first synthetic track inside the grass track, after some initial problems the track was re-built with Pro-Ride and opened in 2010. The new track has proved to be very effective, always rated Good regardless of the weather and with little bias. Many meetings are transferred to the Geelong Synthetic track in the winter & spring when the grass tracks at other provincial venues are seriously rain affected. The rail remains true and being a narrow track it will accommodate up to 12 starters. More synthetic tracks are being planned for Victoria, including one on the East side of Melbourne.
Ballarat - Victoria
One of the busiest race courses in regional Victoria, Ballarat hosts the most meetings on any grass circuit in regional Victoria. The feature event is the Ballarat Cup in November, the final feature event of the Victorian Spring Racing Carnival.
Cranbourne - Victoria
Racing at Cranbourne first took place in 1867. Three racing codes are accommodated at Cranbourne including Horse Racing, Greyhounds & Harness. Cranbourne has grown to be a training track of major importance with over 1000 racehorses in training making racing a significant contributor to local business and the community. The majority of races at Cranbourne are held on a Sunday. The Cranbourne Cup is an important Listed race run in October which carries a $1 million bonus if the winner goes on to success in the Caulfield Cup. Cranbourne Cup winner Lisa's Game ran second in the Caulfield Cup in 1998, however when the Cranbourne Cup was moved to the Sunday before Caulfield it became a less attractive option for those interested in the bonus. A synthetic track for Cranbourne is being planned.
Characteristics: The track at Cranbourne is unusual in that it has a very long chute in which all starts from 1200 to 1600 are positioned and the 1000 start is just at the point where the chute meets the course proper. All horses have a long first straight to get positioned for the single corner before the final long straight to finish. Races 2025 to 2080 start in another short chute at the start of the final straight and run to a corner that takes them round to where the long chute joins up and then they finish the same as the shorter races.
Characteristics: Ballarat has two tracks, one inside the other, to give them more options particularly for the staying distance races where they can either go round the smaller new track or sweep out round the old track while still finishing in front of the Grandstand. Sprint races up to 1200 metres can be started on the back straight of the inside track or in a chute leading into the final straight. Good in dry and wet weather conditions, the long final straight allows horses to make ground making it a very fair racecourse where leaders or swoopers can win.
Bendigo - Victoria
Bendigo is one of longest established regional race courses run by the Bendigo Jockey Club which was formed in 1858. The fine period Grandstand dates from early 1900’s but the track went through a major upgrade in 1998. The Bendigo Cup a race of 2200m is run at the end of October and can be important in raising the weight handicap to gain entry into the Melbourne Cup.
Characteristics: The track is laid out in an oblong shape with a back and front (final) straight of about 400m and two large turns. Races up to 1100m start in a long chute on the left which joins into the left curve at the mid point with only a small amount of cornering before the final straight.
Sticking to the rail is always the shortest route home but most runners get their chance in the straight as this wide track at Bendigo is very fair. Another chute leads into the start of the back straight and caters for stars up to 1600m. With a good long run to the first turn all horses regardless of barriers have their chance to take a position they like and then after the turn they are in the final straight. Races up to 2400m start at the beginning of the front straight and run past the finish post and grandstand before heading round the first turn and into the back straight where the 1600 chute joins the course proper.
Canterbury - NSW
Situated only 15 minutes from the Sydney C.B.D., Canterbury is not really a country racetrack but is primarily used in mid week meetings and can sometimes take the load off Rosehill when necessary. Night racing at Canterbury commences in October running through to February.
Kembla Grange - NSW
There was racing at Kembla Grange as far back as 1834 but the modern course was modelled on the track at Randwick. Except for the lack of a 1400 chute the layout is identical. It has a fairly tight turning track and as a consequence inside barriers are an advantage. Generally horses that can lead or race on pace will be able to provide most of your winners as it is harder for backmarkers to make up ground.
Characteristics: The track is a tight 1567m pear shaped layout with a short chute for the 1550m start joining the main circuit at the beginning of the turn just after the finish line. Another longer chute joins in further round the turn making a straight line into the back straight for the races up to 1250 and the longest race run here is the 1900 which starts in front of the Grandstand passes the Winning Post for the first time then round two turns and two short straights back to the finish. The races tend to be leader or on pace dominated.
Mowbray - Tasmania
The track at Mowbray (Launceston) is located 3km outside Launceston. The Tasmanian Turf Clubs principal racing event is the Summer Carnival which includes the time honoured Launceston Cup, first run in 1865 and won by a horse called Panic. Night Racing begins in September on Thursday Nights. The track layout is an unusual tight turning track having a circumference of approx 1800m and a very short final straight. Generally in the sprint distances up to 1200m the track will tend to favour on pace runners or leaders.