The $1.5 million upgrade of the Healesville greyhound racing track was officially unveiled today with Minister for Racing Denis Napthine joining the celebration and attending the first meeting at the new Burrumbeet-sand track.
Dr Napthine said the picturesque racecourse was a one-of-a-kind facility and the new pavilion had been designed to complement the track’s natural surroundings.
“It is very exciting to be here to officially open the new straight sand track and public pavilion and see a major milestone funded by Greyhound Racing Victoria (GRV) and the State Government accomplished,” Dr Denis Napthine said.
“The Healesville Greyhound Racing Association is set to hold unique straight-course races over both 300 and 350 metres on the new sand track, and the new pavilion will allow patrons to watch races in comfort without detracting from the stunning picnic-friendly surroundings.
“The conversion from grass track to a sand track eliminates the problem of flooding, which will allow Healesville to race 52 weeks of the year with races to receive full Sky Channel television and TAB coverage.
“These races will become a permanent Sunday fixture on the greyhound racing calendar and will provide tremendous exposure for Healseville.”
Dr Napthine said the 150mm deep sand track had settled well and today’s race heats were a good build up toward the Healesville Cup final on 16 October.
“This year the cup winner will receive $40,000, making it the richest straight-track greyhound race in the country,” Dr Napthine said.
GRV Chairman Peter Caillard said the modern facility would also give the local community a fantastic new venue in which to hold their special events on non-race days.
“This bushland setting is arguably the most picturesque racetrack in the country. An ideal complement to the Healesville Sanctuary or a ‘wine and food’ weekend escape, as the appeal of greyhound racing continues to catch on,” Mr Caillard said.
“Thanks largely to the Victorian Government’s generous funding, this major upgrade of Healesville’s tranquil greyhound racing venue now gives it the potential to become widely recognised as a local landmark alongside the likes of Healesville Sanctuary, the popular walking trails at Badger Weir and the busy strip of cafes that align the town centre.”
Healesville Greyhound Racing Association President, Michelle Labahn said the upgrade would secure the future of Greyhound racing in Healseville.
“We believe the greyhound industry will benefit greatly by being able to race at Healesville all year round and attract new patrons to the club. It is truly a major move forward for both the club and greyhound racing,” Ms Labahn said.
The Government has contributed $375,000 towards the track and pavilion works with Greyhound Racing Victoria contributing the remaining $1.125m towards the $1.5m project.