Country racing: helping attract visitors to regional communities across Victoria

Please note: Images in this article were taken before current COVID-19 safety measures were in place.

Victoria has over 100 race clubs with most located in regional Victoria. No longer just somewhere for the horses and greyhounds to show off their skills, with the help of the Victorian Racing Industry Fund’s Raceday Attraction Program, racing clubs are becoming regional entertainment hubs, offering up something for families, tourists and racegoers alike.

Across thoroughbred, harness and greyhound racing codes, the racing industry in regional Victoria generates more than $1.15 billion for the Victorian economy and helps sustain close to 10,000 jobs.

Races are held throughout the year and help drive tourism and economic development as well as boost local businesses and communities.

This year, the Dederang Racing Club, one of Victoria’s oldest racing clubs, received a grant for the annual Dederang Cup. Despite a population of 167, the 152nd running of the Dederang Cup attracted 1954 visitors. The day also included games and activities for kids, live music, and complimentary shuttle buses from neighbouring towns. The club also held the annual Madman Mile, giving patrons an opportunity to run on the track as well as a tug-of-war challenge.

The Camperdown Turf Club provided racegoers with even more reason to celebrate at this year’s Camperdown Cup with the reopening of its heritage-listed iron grandstand. The Victorian Government provided $330,000 through Heritage Victoria’s Living Heritage Grants Program to support the restoration of the last example of Federation-era racing architecture.

Shepparton Greyhound Racing Club used a grant to host a Superheroes and Transformers Race Night. The family-friendly event featured interactive shows, roving performers, and photo opportunities with superheroes including Optimus Prime, Superman and Batman.

Ballarat and District Trotting Club held a Girls Night Out charity raceday event, raising funds for the Love Your Sister foundation and supporting local breast cancer groups. The event sold out within three weeks and was a vital community event with donations and contributions from local businesses.

The Victorian Racing Industry Fund’s Raceday Attraction Program has supported 535 projects, with towns across Victoria being able to provide more to racegoers including entertainment and opportunities to showcase regional food and wine.