Saturday push for Ballarat Cup Day

IT'S the race that stops the city.

The Ballarat Cup brings about 10,000 people out on race day, as well as luring punters from across the country to place bets.

But what if the event was held on a Saturday instead of Sunday?

The Ballarat Turf Club have put a proposal to Racing Victoria to have the event held on the same weekend next year, but one day earlier.

And they have the support of several key stakeholders including the City of Ballarat, Ballarat Regional Tourism, Commerce Ballarat, the Committee for Ballarat and Sovereign Hill.

According to Turf Club CEO Lachlan McKenzie, if the cup was moved to the Saturday it would be attracting a crowd of 20,000 within three years.

“The potential benefits are far more broad-reaching in the community than just racing,” Mr McKenzie said.

“The Turf Club are working with Ballarat Regional Tourism to put on a whole weekend of tourism in Ballarat. 

“We’ve got a vision of having an event on Friday, the racing on Saturday and then Sunday is an opportunity for racegoers to visit other tourism hot spots in the region.

“Every bed in Ballarat will be full.”

Mr McKenzie said a change in dates would bring $2 million into the local economy.

He said that in order for Ballarat to get its way the Mooney Valley races on Saturday would need to shift dates.

“It’s an industry meet that doesn’t generate much interest on a Saturday from an event and crowd perspective,” Mr McKenzie said about the Mooney Valley event.

“(The Ballarat Cup on a Saturday) would be a fantastic way to close out the Melbourne Spring Carnival.” 

Ballarat Regional Tourism CEO George Sossi agreed.

“It’s all positive from a tourism perspective. It gives people an opportunity to come up for the cup and stay for the weekend,” he said.

“Anything that can extend the length of stay and introduce visitors to Ballarat is fantastic.

“Traditionally people are used to going to races on a Saturday and the added bonus is they can stay on and enjoy what Ballarat has to offer.”

Ballarat trainer Darren Weir also threw his support behind a Saturday cup.

“It’d be great to have the cup on a Saturday because it would mean a standalone Saturday meeting,” he said. 

“From my point of view it doesn’t make any difference but because I train at Ballarat I want what’s best for the club.” 

evan.schuurman@thecourier.com.au

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