Benalla Ensign

Sprinklers fail to waylay Cup

- By Liam Nash

Not even a malfunctio­n on the eve of Benalla Racing Club’s biggest event could stop the Gold Cup from going ahead — of sorts.

While the most unfortunat­e of circumstan­ces — a malfunctio­ning sprinkler, of all things — led to the race day being shifted from Friday to Sunday, general manager Cameron Symes said the spectator-free event went off without a hitch.

“From our perspectiv­e, it was a great day’s racing and the track raced really well — we were very happy with the day,” Symes said.

“It was pretty frantic from when it was called off, we then had to get our ducks in line to get the day back on.

“It was definitely a busy few hours, but it was great that everyone could pull together and make the cup happen.”

A wet patch discovered near the 200m mark on Friday morning had event organisers scrambling.

Symes noted the involved jockeys casted votes on whether they were comfortabl­e to ride through the patch, and though close, the vote was not in favour of proceeding.

From there, it was hell for leather to find the cause of the leak.

Identifyin­g the malfunctio­ning sprinkler on Friday afternoon, the team quickly fixed the issue and worked hastily to get the event back on track.

“We support the jockeys, they are the guys and girls riding the horses and it’s a high-risk sport,” Symes said.

“The decision to postpone was made on Friday afternoon, and we were straight on the phone with Racing Victoria to see if we could reprogram the cup.

“We’re very grateful for all our supporters, member and sponsors who’ve stuck with us during the COVID times.

“There are a lot of people who are doing it a lot tougher and yes we had an unfortunat­e incident on Friday, but we were able to quickly turn it around and put it back on.”

Though the lead-up to the day was far from smooth, the racing itself was seamless.

Capping a monumental event was Gold Cup winner Starcaster­v, which ran a unique and thrilling race according to Symes, with jockey Blaike McDougall steering the Freedman Racing-stabled horse to a romping victory.

“Starcaster was a quality horse,” he said.

“The tactics were quite different to what I’ve seen — it went out and led the whole race, had a bit of a lull then kicked again to storm home.”

Local trainer Russell Osborne also struck pay dirt, seeing the fruits of his labour pay off when Boom

Express sailed to her maiden victory in her 11th career start.

“It was good to see local trainer Russell Osborne saluting Boom Express home in the second race at nice odds — hopefully the locals were on board and following Russell,” Symes said. “He’s been in very good form of late.”

The news gets better for Benalla’s racing populace, with the recent announceme­nt vaccinated events will be trialled in country racing starting with the Bendigo Cup on October 27.

Symes was hopeful Benalla Racing Club would be able to have supporters back on course for its coming events at the year’s end.

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