Geelong St Pat’s Cup
The 2015 Geelong St Pat’s Cup
The 2015 Geelong St Pat’s Cup, the feature race on the Geelong Racing Club’s picnic day held on 14 March was won by the eight-year-old gelding Alrouz, ridden by Patrick Keane and trained by Doug Harrison. The win netted AU$13,500 of the AU$21,500 total prize money, with Alrouz carrying 52kg and finishing a bare tenth of a length ahead of the runner-up, four-year-old gelding Sir Mask. The Geelong St Pat’s Cup was the feature race on a card of eight, in a once-a-year event at the racecourse designed to provide a day out for friends and family in a picnic atmosphere.
The Cup is held as close to St Patrick’s Day as possible, so of course punters are encouraged to wear green and celebrate any Irish blood in their ancestry. They have a choice between the course’s dining rooms and clubs, or the many marquees serving everything from mixed platters to gourmet barbecue. Children’s activities include jumping castles, face painting and supervised activities. The range of options on offer come at a variety of price levels, so as to suit all pockets.
Geelong’s Rich Racing History
Geelong, established in 1838, lies on the Barwon River and Corio Bay in the Australian state of Victoria, 75km southwest of Melbourne, the state capital. The port city was very important in the state’s development, serving as an outlet first for wool exports, and later for the gold of the Ballarat district.
From the 1860s, it developed into one of Australia’s most important manufacturing centres, and although this sector has declined, inner city redevelopment and growth in service industries has allowed Geelong to maintain its position as a local economic hub. Horseracing began in Geelong in 1841, but the first racecourse, begun in 1849, was in an area that left it susceptible to frequent flooding. The Geelong Racing Club was formed in 1866, and in 1908 moved to its current premises, on a new racecourse built in East Geelong. Since then, the track has been upgraded several times, and a total of three grandstands built.
Picnic horseracing, more commonly called “picnic racing” or just “the picnics”, is a particularly Australian tradition. They use thoroughbred horses, but the meetings are organised by amateur clubs, and usually employ amateur jockeys or retired professionals, and hobby trainers also feature often.
The horses are generally of a standard that does not allow them to compete at professional meetings, or else are former professional competitors that are now past their prime. Picnic races also feature much more emphasis on a carnival atmosphere and bonus attractions at the racecourse; the idea is to create a once-a-year fun family day out, without the pressures of top-ranked competition. In this year’s Geelong St Pat’s Cup, the winner Alrouz started badly, making contact with eventual runner-up Sir Mask out of the gate. Alrouz was lying second at the 800m and 400m marks, but managed to get his nose in front at the last second to secure the win.