Sport

Racing begins its new season at ERC

By Andrew Johnston

THE grass is cut, the birds are singing, the air is fresh.

Spring has arrived, and with it comes the new season of racing for the Echuca Racing Club.

Thursday will see the first meeting of the season for the club, before jumpouts take place the following day.

Echuca Racing Club general manager Garry Armstrong said the club was expecting a great day of racing, with the track in excellent condition as the season begins.

“We've had strong nominations for Thursday - 473 for our eight programmed races,” he said.

“After our heavy winter racing schedule, the track has been given six weeks to recover and is in fantastic order.

Armstrong said the track would be rated near the good4 range.

“The meeting is highlighted by a Bench Mark 70 race over the Melbourne Cup distance of 3200m,” he said.

“This race is a lead up qualifier for the Jericho Cup that is held at Warrnambool, over the 4600m on November 15, which has $300,000 in prizemoney.”

Unfortunately, Victoria's COVID-19 restrictions have not adjusted enough to allow a crowd, which Armstrong admits is a major disappointment for the club.

However, he says the delay to return to the track will not impact on the pockets of members.

“The messaging from Racing Victoria is telling us that this (no crowds) will most likely stay this way through all of October as well,” Armstrong said.

“With this in mind, the ERC committee will finalise the 2020/21 memberships, with this information to be forwarded to ERC Members in the next week.”

And with Friday's jumpouts will come the debut of another youngster to the sport in caller Isaac Jantzen, who won a competition to commentate the races.

“Friday will see ERC hold jumpouts, with trainers from Kyneton, Bendigo, Tatura and Echuca invited to bring their horse and trial them over 900m,” Armstrong said.

“The ERC’s jumpouts will be videoed and the ERC, through its Facebook page, invited ‘budding’ race callers to audition by sending through their best race calling effort.

“After working through these auditions, a young enthusiastic caller, Isaac, will make his race calling debut calling Fridays trials.

“All of this action will be loaded up onto the ERC’s website.”