Campaspe News - - SPORT - By JESS GLED­HILL

AF­TER 11 years in re­ces­sion El­more Har­ness Rac­ing Club’s Box­ing Day meet­ing has re­turned to the cal­en­dar.

2016 will see the first meet­ing since race or­gan­is­ers de­cided to move coun­try club meet­ings to larger tracks.

The track was then only used for train­ing pur­poses, with meet­ings held in Bendigo.

It has de­te­ri­o­rated from lack of use for more than 10 years — but the de­ter­mi­na­tion of one par­tic­u­lar club mem­ber has brought life back to the tired ground.

Cliff Pow­ell is sec­re­tary-trea­surer of the El­more Har­ness Rac­ing Club and has lob­bied for five years to bring the meet­ing back to the town.

The com­mu­nity re­sponded with over­whelm­ing sup­port to the Box­ing Day meet and train­ers from the lo­cal area have wel­comed the event.

‘‘I rang around and gar­nered sup­port from Coun­try Clubs As­so­ci­a­tion and other peo­ple in the area to help bring the event back,’’ Mr Pow­ell said.

‘‘Lo­cal peo­ple used to have great time (at the Box­ing Day meet­ing) and it was a great day for town.’’

The club was given a grant from the Vic­to­rian gov­ern­ment to up­grade fa­cil­i­ties and re­store the track to its for­mer glory.

It’s over half way com­plete in the ren­o­va­tions to en­sure the track meets oc­cu­pa­tional health and safety stan­dards.

But there’s still a lot of work to be done be­fore Box­ing Day ar­rives.

The de­ci­sion to move the meet­ing had shocked Mr Pow­ell, with the last race day re­ceiv­ing an at­ten­dance of more than 1000, which in­cluded Har­ness Rac­ing Vic­to­ria of­fi­cials.

This year is ex­pected to fos­ter the same re­sponse with the event re­ceiv­ing an over­whelm­ing sup­port from the town since the club made the an­nounce­ment.

‘‘It’s go­ing to be a day for the whole fam­ily,’’ Mr Pow­ell said.

‘‘We’ll have kids en­ter­tain­ment, a water slide, wine tast­ing, a lo­cal band play­ing from Bendigo, a pet­ting zoo, face paint­ing and plenty of food and drink op­tions.’’

The day will also in­clude a monte race, pony trot­ters, dual seated sulky rides driven by pro­fes­sional driv­ers

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and Har­ness Rac­ing Vic­to­ria give­aways.

There’s also the op­tion to hire out one of the 10 mar­quees avail­able on the day, with room for 10 peo­ple.

There’ll be eight to 10 races on the day all tele­vised on Sky Chan­nel.

Broad­cast times­lots will dic­tate

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when the races will take place, with the day likely to start about noon.

Free re­turn buses will run from Echuca to El­more (stop­ping in Rochester) and Bendigo to El­more (stop­ping in Goornong).

‘‘We hope ev­ery­thing runs smoothly on the day,’’ Mr Pow­ell said.

‘‘If it’s a suc­cess we’ll look at run­ning the meet­ing again and adding an­other meet­ing dur­ing the year to the har­ness rac­ing cal­en­dar.’’

For any more in­for­ma­tion or book­ings, con­tact Cliff Pow­ell on 0408 582 267.

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Photo: Sit­thixay Dit­thavong

El­more Har­ness Rac­ing Club pres­i­dent Ed Mul­lane, left, and sec­re­tary-trea­surer Cliff Pow­ell are putting in the hard yards for a Box­ing Day meet­ing, El­more’s first in 10 years .

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