For 150 years, with a backdrop of rolling tablelands, horses have engaged in jumping races at Coleraine. Horses used to follow a circuit through the town, leaping over gardens and backyard fences.
On Sunday the Coleraine Racing Club celebrates the milestone of notching 150 editions of a quality jumping race with the running of the $35,000 Great Western Steeplechase (3500m).
Believed to be Australia’s oldest jumps race, another quality field has been attracted with 14 nominations, including Din from the Eric Musgrove stable.
With Victorian Premier John Brumby to be looking on, Musgrove will be seeking consecutive Great Western Steeplechase wins after pocketing last year’s race with Working Class Man.
“It is a great country track and a good race that the club puts on. It is as good as a city equivalent and has good prizemoney to boot,” Musgrove said.
“Racing at Coleraine is true country racing – the race day is well supported by a great country crowd and that’s what country racing is all about.
“You go to some city races and unless there is a big race on, there is no-one there. Where as these race days are community events, where a lot of people get to the racetrack to support the day.”
Last year, Naturalism gelding Working Class Man won by 3.8 lengths to provide Musgrove with his maiden Great Western Steeplechase. Musgrove was confident Din could repeat the feat, however, he is wary of the classy opposition Din must defeat.
“He has been racing honestly and consistently this campaign,” Musgrove said of the Palace Music gelding. His last win was on 21 July at Moe over the fences, which was over a similar distance to Sunday’s race.
Australian poet and horseman Adam Lindsay Gordon was so captivated by a day at the Coleraine races, he scribed his famous poem about being on `The Fields of Coleraine’. He also wrote `Banker’s Dream’ about his experiences riding in and watching the famous steeplechase races at Coleraine.
Although poetry may be hard to find, there will be a wealth of live entertainment at Coleraine on Sunday including period fashions on the field, kids’ activities and historical displays. It is a town rich in horse
history. Back in 1911 The Parisian won the Melbourne Cup, with the horse locally owned.
With much of Australia eagerly anticipating the AFL Grand Final on Saturday, two race clubs offer a double delight – footy and the ponies.
Both Mornington and Seymour host race meetings on AFL Grand Final day, with the classic battle between Geelong and Port Adelaide live on big screens at the racecourse. People are encouraged to come dressed in their footy colours to support either the Cats or Power, as well as cheer home a few winners.
As well as Coleraine, the Murray River township of Swan Hill welcomes plenty of visitors for the North West Ag Quambatook Cup Day at Swan Hill Racecourse.
Hosted by the Swan Hill Jockey Club, this event kicks off Friday night with the Calcutta Night at the Quamby Hotel. Last year the eighties theme was enthusiastically received and everyone had plenty of fun. A courtesy bus will operate and depart from the Swan Hill Jockey Club carpark.
On course on Sunday adults and kids will be thoroughly entertained with Fashions on the Field, Punters Club and Race Day Raffles for the adults, while an array of free activities for the kids includes face painting, jumping castle and Auskick and netball clinics hosted by MacKillop College students.