A forecast of extreme heat at the weekend has forced Racing Victoria to make changes to Friday’s 2018 Grampians Halls Gap Cup at the Stawell Racing Club.
The Bureau of Meteorology has predicted a top temperature of 36 degrees at Stawell, which was hot enough for Racing Victoria to reshuffle race times.
The first race was pushed back from 1.30pm to 12.30pm on Friday, with races to conclude at 4pm.
In a statement, Racing Victoria said it was taking relevant action under their Procedure for Racing in Hot Weather Policy.
“(The policy) is designed to ensure the health and wellbeing of horses and participants is paramount,” it said.
“Large containers of ice water in mobile containers will be made available at appropriate locations around the racecourse, with horses required in the mounting yard for reduced periods of time.”
Races across the state at the weekend have been rescheduled, with temperatures set to soar above the 40 degree mark across Victoria on Saturday.
Stawell Racing Club operations manager Mark Percival said he believes the change in times will not affect the success of the Friday’s meet at Stawell.
“I don’t think starting two races early will not have much of an impact,” he said.
“We expected the crowd to start rolling in before 12 anyway.
“In these situation’s Racing Victoria has to make a decision a few days out – at that forecast temperature it is all about the safety of the horses and participants.”
Gates will open at the original time of 11.30am.
Despite the heat, Percival said he expects a “great family day”.
“We have plenty going on for everybody,” he said.
“There is free entry for kids with activities like face painting and competitions running throughout the day.
“There will also be live music and we expect our function room to be very busy on the day.”
Friday’s Grampians Halls Gap Cup will be the first meet at Stawell for 2018.
Percival said it is a good time of year to be hosting a meet.
“A Friday during school holidays is really good timing,” he said.
“It is all part of CRV’s kids summer of country racing.
“I am hoping for a lovely family day of relaxed country racing.”
Buses will run from Lake Fyans and Halls Gap to the racecourse on Friday.
Percival said the option of a bus to the track allows a variety of people to attend the day.
“There is obviously a lot of tourists around at the moment, so it is great to be able to give everyone an opportunity to come down to see the racing,” he said.
“If anyone has any queries about the buses or the day in general I am able to be reached at 0477 689 674.”