Man­i­cured track is ready for a big day of rac­ing ac­cord­ing to Pelly

The Riverine Herald - - RIVERINE HERALD - By An­drew Johnston

A LOT of tracks across Vic­to­ria are in great con­di­tion.

They are pre­pared well, they are main­tained and are al­ways great un­der foot for the com­peti­tors.

You might not find so many of them at coun­try clubs but Echuca race­course is a stun­ning ex­cep­tion.

It’s an achieve­ment in which track man­ager An­thony Pelly takes a great deal of pride.

‘‘The track isn’t too bad at all,’’ Pelly said.

‘‘It’s been run on a lot lately, but at this time of year it’s get­ting plenty of wa­ter through its new ir­ri­ga­tion sys­tem, as well as plenty of sun­light so its in pretty good con­di­tion.’’

In re­cent weeks it has hosted ad­di­tional meet­ings for Sey­mour and Gun­bower af­ter both cour­ses had their run­ning sur­faces ruled un­safe — and that’s on top of its own sched­ule.

The track is shap­ing up for Tues­day’s Mel­bourne Cup Day meet­ing — the big­gest day of the year at the club.

The reign­ing Vic­to­rian Coun­try Club of the Year is con­stantly be­ing worked on to make sure it is in pris­tine con­di­tion.

Pelly, who has been with the club for close to 10 years, said the club was al­ways look­ing for ways to im­prove.

‘‘We’ve re­cently put the new ir­ri­ga­tion sys­tem in,’’ he said.

‘‘It’s one of the best sys­tems avail­able, and we are used to that at the big­ger clubs, but you prob­a­bly don’t see that kind of sys­tem out on the coun­try cour­ses.

‘‘We are re­ally proud that we have been able to put that kind of work in at our course. We also un­der­take a track restora­tion an­nu­ally. We used to com­plete this ev­ery three years, but we have now worked on this ev­ery sea­son in or­der to make sure our horses are on the best track pos­si­ble.’’

There are a lot of el­e­ments to Pelly’s job, in­clud­ing work­ing the mar­shalling for the races.

‘‘My day is pretty busy on a race day,’’ he said.

‘‘It’s fairly hec­tic. We have dead­lines to get horses ready for jump, if things go wrong you have to fix it and with a race ev­ery 30 or 40 min­utes, there isn’t a lot of time in be­tween to get the horses mov­ing and ready to the stew­ards to load them into the gate for the jump.

‘‘A lot hap­pens on race day, there are a lot of mov­ing parts and if we don’t get it all right then it can get pretty prob­lem­atic.’’ Un­til the race starts. ‘‘You have a few min­utes of calm as the race is about to be­gin,’’ he said.

‘‘Watch­ing the jump is ex­cit­ing, get­ting to see these horses at full stride do­ing what they do is great. You are right in the ac­tion as the race be­gins.’’

BRAINS TRUST: Echuca Rac­ing Club pres­i­dent Troy Mur­phy, left, and An­thony Pelly out­side the Pav­il­ion at ERC. Pelly has been work­ing on the track for al­most a decade and has it in tip top con­di­tion for Tues­day.

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