Summer night meetings to be trialled at Cranbourne

Racing Victoria (RV) on Thursday announced the endorsement of Southside Racing’s submission to conduct a short trial of Saturday night racing at Cranbourne during the 2024-25 summer.

Cranbourne previously held two to three Saturday night meetings annually from 2011 to 2019 prior to their cessation during the COVID pandemic. 

The four-night summer trial was requested by the newly constituted Southside Racing to assist its efforts in promoting racing in the south-east and engaging local communities.

The trial will allow Southside Racing and RV to better understand key metrics, such as attendance, wagering and engagement, around Saturday night racing post the COVID era.

Key features of the trial are as follows:

There will be no increase in the volume of meetings conducted with the four meetings moved from other timeslots to facilitate the trial;

The Saturday night trial will be conducted across four consecutive weeks from 28 December to 17 January;

Accordingly, there will no longer be any night racing in Victoria on Fridays, 27 December and 3 January, and Thursdays 9 and 16 January; 

Racing will conclude no later than 8.45pm with Southside Racing planning to entertain crowds thereafter with live music and entertainment;

Country level prizemoney will be offered to ensure a point of difference from the Saturday afternoon metropolitan meeting; and 

The meetings will serve to provide opportunities for a range of participants who may not be competing at the metropolitan meeting on the day.

During the consultation process, key stakeholder groups and leading stables indicated to Southside Racing and RV their willingness to support the trial in the agreed format. 

Notably, feedback from Wagering Service Providers indicated that twice as many of their racing customers are active in the 5.30pm-8.30pm Saturday timeslot than the Tuesday and Thursday daytime slots and 50-60% more than the Wednesday and Sunday daytime slots.

“We’re pleased to confirm that the four-week Saturday night trial at Cranbourne will proceed this summer after completing an extensive consultation process," said Matt Welsh, RV’s Executive General Manager – Racing.

“I want to acknowledge the many stakeholders who have offered their support for the trial and in turn Southside Racing who are working hard to promote racing in our south-east.

“To facilitate the trial, existing Thursday and Friday night meetings at Cranbourne and Pakenham will be moved to Saturdays to ensure there’s no additional racing.

“These meetings will also start earlier to intersect with the large volume of active customers engaging in Saturday metro meetings, while also enabling an earlier finish for participants. 

“We encourage our Clubs to keep trying initiatives to grow the sport and we’re pleased to support Southside Racing who are planning a great festival of meetings and entertainment.

“As well as engaging local communities, the trial will provide fresh insights into wagering and engagement on Saturday nights given they were last held five years ago due to COVID.”

“We are thrilled to have the endorsement from Racing Victoria for our Saturday night racing trial at Cranbourne. This initiative represents a significant opportunity to revitalise racing in the south-east and engage with local communities in a new and exciting way," said Neil Bainbridge, Southside Racing Chief Executive.

"This trial is about more than just racing; it’s about understanding how we can evolve and thrive in a dynamic landscape. We are committed to learning from this experience and using the insights gained to inform our future strategies.

“At the heart of this trial is our desire to connect with our local communities. The twilight start gives us the chance to enhance the experience with varied post-racing entertainment, promising a more engaging and enjoyable time for all. We're excited to see how this trial will bring our community together.

“The positive feedback from key stakeholders, including leading stables, has been invaluable. Their support underlines the potential of this initiative to enhance the racing experience, drive increased attendance, and provide valuable data-driven insights to the industry."

For the full 2024-25 race dates, updated following endorsement of Cranbourne's Saturday night trial, please click here.