Victoria's inaugural Good Friday raceday a winner for Appeal and Gippsland

Victoria’s inaugural Good Friday raceday proved a roaring success today, as In The Boat took out the first-ever running of the $500,000 The Country Discovery (1100m) at Sale in resplendent sunshine before an excited crowd.

Gippsland locals and Easter holidaymakers alike descended on Sale Racecourse to watch country Victoria’s newest sprint race, while playing their part to help raise money for the time-honoured Good Friday Appeal. 

In conjunction with today’s race meeting, Racing Victoria (RV), Country Racing Victoria (CRV) and the Sale Turf Club (STC) announced a donation of $100,000 on behalf of the Victorian thoroughbred racing industry, to the Good Friday Appeal which helps The Royal Children’s Hospital continue its world-class care.

The donation comprises funds raised via today’s historic race meeting at Sale, contributions from RV, CRV, and the STC, in addition to previously committed nomination fees from the 2022 Seppelt Wines All-Star Mile. 

The Victorian thoroughbred racing industry’s contribution to the Good Friday Appeal now stands at $250,000 over the last four years.  

Funds for the Appeal were raised on-course through a proportion of all admission tickets, an auction of commemorative silks signed by today’s jockeys, tin rattlers collecting donations from attendees, and gold coin donations from racing fans who used buses linking towns around Gippsland with the race meeting.

On the turf, In The Boat highlighted the day with a stunning victory in country Victoria’s richest sprint race, The Country Discovery (1100m), for trainer Lindsey Smith and jockey Blaike McDougall.

Also providing a thrilling spectacle were two $150,000 finals of the inaugural Good Friday Country Trainers Series which aims to showcase smaller Victorian stables that had limited metropolitan success in the previous racing season.

The Preston Rowe Paterson Country Trainers Series Final (1500m) was won by Jesta Dreama, for Cranbourne trainer Wendy Kelly and The Ralcon Homes Country Trainers Series Final (1200m) was secured by Smart Mozzie in a nail-biting finish, for Mornington trainer Kane Harris. 

Other highlights on the track included Splendiferous taking out the $150,000 Gippsland Racing Clubs’ Country Oaks for trainers Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott, as well as a tight finish in the TRFM Good Friday Appeal Cup, won by Thought Provoking ridden by Jordan Childs, for trainers Mick Price and Michael Kent (Jnr). 

Off the track, children enjoyed activities including face painting, a petting zoo, a Kelly Sports clinic, carnival style rides, an Easter egg hunt and a colouring competition for the kids.  

While adults lapped-up the country hospitality on offer throughout the day with food trucks featuring fresh Gippsland seafood and live entertainment from The Voice finalist Micka Harrington.

RV Executive General Manager - Racing, Greg Carpenter, said: “This race meeting was created to support country tourism and promote the regions of Victoria and it was an honour to be here showcasing Sale Racecourse and the Gippsland region for our inaugural Good Friday race meeting. 

“The Good Friday meeting will rotate annually throughout country Victoria and it was fantastic to see families enjoying a great day out, while also contributing to fundraising efforts for the Good Friday Appeal.

“Thanks to the support of industry participants and those who attended today’s race meeting, the Victorian thoroughbred racing industry is proud to have today donated $100,000 to the Good Friday Appeal, a time-honoured institution of compassion and generosity in Victoria.

“The win of In The Boat in The Country Discovery was exceptional and worth applauding. Congratulations also to trainers Wendy Kelly and Kane Harris for their wins in today’s Country Trainers Series which provided smaller Victorian stables with the opportunity to compete against their peers for significant prizemoney.

“We trust this will be the first of many successful Good Friday racedays held around country Victoria for years to come and thank the Sale Turf Club for their tireless efforts as the inaugural host.”

CRV Chief Executive Officer, Scott Whiteman, said: ““It was fantastic to see so many people flock to Gippsland today to witness the first Good Friday race day. Thanks to Racing Victoria and the State Government for their support for this event and also the Sale Turf Club for their contribution to conducting such a successful event”.

“We look forward to next year and taking this feature event to another country racing club and sharing it with their community.”