Mon, Jul 6, 12:32pm by Kevin Pitstock
Premier John Brumby yesterday opened the state-of-the-art harness racing venue in Melton which will not only bring jobs and tourism to the western suburbs, but in yesterdays racing action confirmed itself one of the countries premier harness racing venues.
Mr Brumby said the opening of the 1040-metre racetrack at Tabcorp Park marked a promising new era for the community and for the harness racing industry in Victoria.
“Local businesses and tourism in Melton will thrive and prosper with a great number of new visitors attracted to the area,” Mr Brumby said.
“Tabcorp Park has supported the local economy through employment, with 500 jobs created during the construction phase of the venue, and the majority of the 80 ongoing positions filled by local people.”
Mr Brumby said the Victorian Government had provided more than $450,000 funding to support the project through the Racing Industry Development Program.
The Government also contributed $500,000 through the ‘Living Regions, Living Suburbs’ program to deliver recycled water to Tabcorp Park via the 7 kilometre Toolern Pipeline.
“Recycled water will be used to suppress dust during race meetings and in landscaping across the site, conserving more than 18 million litres of precious drinking water at Tabcorp Park,” Mr Brumby said.
Mr Brumby said up to 5,500 spectators would be able to enjoy racing at Tabcorp Park and would be close to the action.
“Viewing bays in the horse stalls building will allow the public to have a close-up view of the horses and their drivers from a safe location,” Mr Brumby said. “People will feel like they are a real part of the racing experience.”
Deputy Premier and Minister for Racing Rob Hulls congratulated Harness Racing Victoria for its vision and commitment to developing a metropolitan home for Victoria’s harness racing industry.
“The Government is proud to support this fantastic new venue, which will allow the harness racing industry to hold the reins and steer its own course for the future,” Mr Hulls said.
Mr Hulls said Tabcorp Park was a state-of-the-art racetrack with a host of innovative safety features to protect horses and their drivers.
“Tabcorp Park joins Bendigo as the racetrack with the highest camber on its turns in the nation. This camber, combined with the big 110-metre radius turns, reduces the stress on horses’ legs and aims to reduce injuries, prolong careers and promote speed.”
Tabcorp Park is the first new racetrack to open since Geelong’s Beckley Park in 1978 and will host 55 race meetings in its first year. Visitors will benefit from a range of modern entertainment and leisure facilities at the new venue including a 41-room four-star motel, conference and function rooms, bistro and sports bar, gaming area and TAB.
And the winner of Tabcorp Park’s first ever race?
Lady Belladonna secured her place in harness history when she won the first of today’s Vicbred Super Series semi final for the two-year-old fillies. In doing so, the daughter of Pacific Fella became the first horse to win a TAB race at the new home of Victorian harness racing, Melton’s Tabcorp Park.
Trainer Shane Gilligan said regardless of what happens in Friday night’s $100,000 Group 1 final, also run at Tabcorp Park, she had already provided connections with a special feeling.
“We’re just wrapt to have a horse good enough to be racing here and if she’s good enough to grab the race next Friday that would be great, but today has been a big thrill for us,” the Moama horseman said.
Lady Belladonna took her record to five wins from six starts when she broke 30 seconds for every quarter on her way to a strong four-metre win in a 2:00.0 mile rate as the $1.20 favourite.
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