Racing Victoria (RV), in conjunction with Country Racing Victoria (CRV), has today announced that, subject to parliamentary approval, Sale will be the inaugural host of Good Friday racing in 2022.
RV and CRV announced plans last month for the creation of a feature annual race meeting in country Victoria which would launch the Easter long weekend.
The destination event is designed to support tourism in regional Victoria and would see thoroughbred racing join the AFL, NRL and NBL in conducting professional sport on Good Friday within Victoria.
Sale has been chosen by RV and CRV to host the inaugural Good Friday meeting which is proposed to rotate annually throughout Victoria promoting the different regions of the state and encouraging tourism within.
Sale is home to one of state’s premier country racetracks and is in the heart of the Gippsland region in Victoria’s east. It is the gateway to the Gippsland Lakes, the largest inland waterway system in Australia, and a short drive from the iconic Ninety Mile Beach.
If changes to the Racing Act 1958, which would permit the conduct of thoroughbred racing on Good Friday, are passed by the Victorian Parliament, RV and CRV are committed to ensuring that racing will not commence prior to 1pm – as currently occurs on ANZAC Day.
The racing program for the 2022 Good Friday meeting, which if approved would be held on Friday, 15 April, is under construction and will be announced in the coming months.
RV and CRV are also planning for the feature race meeting to support fundraising efforts for the Good Friday Appeal with details to now be progressed with the Sale Turf Club upon its selection.
The Good Friday Appeal is currently the official charity partner of Victoria’s All-Star Mile with over $150,000 in race entry fees donated to the Appeal over the past three years by RV.
Racing is currently prohibited in Victoria on Good Friday and Christmas Day. The State Government introduced a bill into Parliament last month seeking to amend the Racing Act 1958 to allow for the conduct of racing on Good Friday. It is anticipated that the Bill will be debated in Parliament over the coming weeks.
Victorian thoroughbred racing generates over $3 billion annually for the Victorian economy and boasts the equivalent of 25,000 full-time jobs across the State.
Quotes attributable to RV Chief Executive, Giles Thompson
“As stated last month, we’re excited about the potential to create a feature raceday that makes country Victoria a focal point on Good Friday for racing fans and provides another incentive for holidaymakers to venture into country Victoria over Easter.
“We would want this raceday to be a destination event for country Victoria, one that showcases different areas of our state through an annual rotation, thus supporting the different country communities that promote racing year-round.
“Together with CRV, we’re pleased to announce that, Sale will be the inaugural host of this exciting new raceday if the legislation passes through Parliament and approval is granted to race on Good Friday from 2022.
“Sale is one of our leading country racetracks and a Good Friday raceday would provide a wonderful opportunity to work with the local community to promote the broader Gippsland region and to showcase country racing at its best.”
Quotes attributable to CRV Chief Executive, Scott Whiteman
“If supported by the Parliament, Good Friday presents a terrific opportunity to develop another marquee raceday in the country, whilst helping to support tourism in regional Victoria which has had its challenges throughout the COVID pandemic.
“Easter is one of the most successful weekends for country racing and its local communities and the addition of Good Friday racing would only serve to bolster its importance to both the racing industry and country Victoria.
“We too are excited to announce that, if approved, the Sale Turf Club would host the inaugural Good Friday race meeting in Victoria, and we know that they will do an outstanding job in promoting the local region and country racing.
“Gippsland is a wonderful part of country Victoria, and the region has done it tough over the past two years with the devasting bushfires of 2019-20 rolling straight into the COVID pandemic. If approved by Parliament, we’re keen to see this event support Gippsland next Easter and generate additional tourism for the region.”
Quotes attributable to Sale Turf Club Chief Executive, Brad Evans
“It would be an incredible honour for the Sale Turf Club to host the first Good Friday race meeting in Victoria and we warmly welcome the opportunity to showcase the sport and our region on what will be an historic day, if approved by Parliament.
“The opportunity to promote Sale and the wider Gippsland region is something that we embrace and would work with the local community, CRV and RV to make Good Friday a success for country racing and tourism in the region.
“If supported by Parliament, we not only look forward to creating a great raceday for everyone to enjoy, but we’ll be ensuring that Good Friday racing at Sale plays its part to help support the Good Friday Appeal which is an intrinsic part of this day for Victorians.”
Thoroughbred racing is currently conducted in Western Australia and Tasmania on Good Friday.
Up until 2017, Good Friday and Christmas Day were Victoria’s only race-free days. Victoria now has 17 days annually on which no thoroughbred racing is programmed.
Victoria is currently conducting a race-free week for the first time with no meetings scheduled from Monday, 26 July to Friday, 30 July.