THE Ballarat Cup brought in more than $5 million to the local economy last year despite horrendous weather that kept almost 4000 people from the track.
That is the result from the first independent analysis of the event conducted by IER, a data and an analysis organisation which was engaged by Racing Victoria to research the impact of country cups around the state.
The analysis covered everything from crowd numbers to the amount of visitors to the region, both day trippers and overnight stays and expenditure in the region.
The figures revealed a crowd of 9934 attended the day which included 3537 visitors to the city.
This translated into 2181 overnight stays and brought in an economic impact of $5.18 million.
Ballarat Turf Club chief executive Lachlan McKenzie said the analysis showed how important the day was to the local community.
“We think we were on track for 13,000 before the rain storm came,” Mr McKenzie said.
“What we can’t control is the weather and that is why one of our core focuses is to weather proof our event to make sure we have a comfortable offering and we’ve still got some work to do in that space.
“We’ve been very proud of the outcomes to develop the day into a family friendly focus. The Ballarat Cup for want of a better word had a reputation for loutish behaviour so we’ve made sure to include a family precinct.
“It’s so important that our customers see it as a family day out and not just punting and beer.” Mr McKenzie said moving from a Sunday race to a stand-alone Saturday fixture had given the race a greater prominence and the development of the new $9 million synthetic track would only assist in the increasing popularity.
“We lobbied Racing Victoria for four years to secure what is referred to as a stand-alone Saturday, when there is no race meeting in Melbourne,” Mr McKenzie said.
“There’s one at Mornington, there’s one at Pakenham, one at Bendigo. The only ones that are stand-alone on Cup day are ourselves and Pakenham.
“What that means from an event perspective is we get the big race jockeys, big race trainers, there’s more prize money and it lifts our day to a much greater height than a Sunday or a Wednesday could.”
Mr McKenzie said the synthetic track would be a major turning point for the club. “The only other track of its type in Victoria is Pakenham,” he said.
“We’ll be able to race up to 40 times a year which will bring a huge economic benefit. In terms of Cup day, I’m content with the racing content, but we’re very keen to develop the event, and make it something that will continue grow.”