ECHUCA racegoers will kick off the New Year with a family-friendly evening of harness racing on Monday.
This year the club has obtained Optimus Prime (pictured) and Bumblebee – the Melbourne Transformers – to entertain families and they have been an extremely popular drawcard around the state.
The first 300 children through the gates – with their parents – will also receive a free ice-cream voucher to give their night a tasty start.
Echuca Harness Racing Club president Robert Height said there will also be “a fantastic selection of food and drink on offer”.
He said the Echuca Harness Racing Club was also giving away 100 free family tickets at local caravan parks and tourist accommodation centres to help visitors to the region enjoy the fun and excitement of country racing.
People can also win double passes on the Riverine Herald Facebook page.
The annual New Year’s Day evening meeting is a favourite fixture on the Echuca harness racing calendar, attracting holidaymakers and locals. Height said this meeting is well supported by local owners and trainers, including Greg Albert with Gems, Gol Godden with Lights and Music, Susan Hunter with Our Midnight Mayhem NZ, Ros Rolfe with Dallas Franco, Rob Caldwell with I It’s Me, Geof Allen with Sassyfeet, Wayne Lear with Em Gandolfo and I Hope I Can plus Faye McEwan with Majestic Time. He said Norm and Joan Visca were also keen to give their horses Hettivale and Tasman Flash a run.
“Our club is grateful for the support and we are looking forward to an action-packed meeting on the track and fun and entertaining evening off it with Optimus Prime and Bumblebee to amaze and entertain the family,” he said.
“There will also be a jumping castle, face painting and a DJ with great music.
“We are expecting great weather, perfect for a night at the trots and are looking forward to a great turnout for the nine races.”
Height said the club goes to a lot of trouble to make it a special night and it would be great for people to bring along a picnic tea – but there is no BYO alcohol.
He said the Victorian government has provided almost $9000 towards the event, courtesy of its Victorian racing industry fund race day attraction program.
“The club is also contributing more than $6000, with Harness Racing Victoria providing a further $1000.”
Member for Northern Victoria Mark Gepp said the New Year’s Day meeting is a great community event which supports local jobs.
“As well as making a significant contribution to Victoria’s economy, harness racing provides entertaining events all year round for the Victorian community,’’ Gepp said.
‘‘Highly regarded harness racing media identity Rod Booker will MC the evening, and racegoers will have the opportunity to share in various prize draws throughout the evening including club merchandise and products and services from local businesses,’’ he added.
Since 2014 the Victorian Government has contributed more than $287,000 to the Echuca Harness Racing Club, which includes more than $243,000 for five infrastructure projects and more than $44,000 for five harness racing events.
The racing industry in the Goulburn region generates more than $227 million for the Victorian economy each year and helps sustain about 2240 jobs in the area.