Hype hits fever pitch

RELATED COVERAGE: Two-year racing wait ends

RELATED COVERAGE: Gelagotis keen on Moe return

By keith hillier

Racing’s return to Moe tomorrow was to be a “soft” re-opening but the “shhhhh” is slowly turning to three raucous cheers.

Even the visit last Wednesday by Premier and Racing Minister, Denis Napthine, to inspect the $4.5 million redevelopment drew an unexpected attendance of Moe Racing Club members.

Buying in to the hype, chairman of Country Racing Victoria Lance McMillan could not hold back his enthusiasm.

“This fantastic new track is a huge bonus for the race club, the racing industry and the city of Moe” he said.

No racetrack is closer to McMillan’s heart.

He lives in Moe and was a committee member of the race club for 22 years and chairman for 10.

He also is proud the club was able to contribute $3.04 million of the $4.5 million redevelopment cost.

Profits from two club-owned Tabarets provided the funds to finance the major share of the redevelopment cost, while the State Government contributed $1.2 million and another $260,000 was added by Racing Victoria Limited and Country Racing Victoria.

The result is a new-look StrathAyr all-weather grass track, which will be better, bigger and more beneficial to the industry.

Better because its new galloping surface has already been compared with same-recipe tracks in Hong Kong, Singapore, Moonee Valley and Randwick’s Kensington surface.

Bigger because provision of a back-straight chute will enable races to be run, for the first time, at 2400 metres.

Beneficial because in the event of other racetracks being unable host because of wet weather their meetings could be transferred to Moe.

Moe has 14 meetings scheduled over 12 months and, previously, the longest distance of any race was 2020 metres.

McMillan said Moe was poised to become a leader in country racing and the local community and assist a bright future for the Latrobe Valley racing industry.

Dr Napthine said the completed work was a major boost for the racing industry in Gippsland, particularly the community of Moe.

“Racing across Gippsland is worth more than $110 million in annual economic benefits and 1700 jobs,” he said.

“This significant investment at Moe will help grow these benefits.

“With a new world-class track, there is great potential to attract more trainers to Moe and Gippsland and therefore create more jobs.”

Moe Racing Club executives had tried to “keep the lid on” any push to welcome back racing to Moe after two years in the wilderness.

Further down the track, they have big plans for Moe Cup day on October 16.

But the excitement of racing again at Moe has been difficult to restrain, and the Anzac Day public holiday meeting looms large as a monumental occasion.

Full steam ahead.