Greyhound racing, cricket and football are not sports you would automatically link together, but at Healesville, links are being forged, and paying dividends.
The rewards for the Greyhound Club of reaching out to local sports clubs are greater community awareness and involvement, according to new president Matthew Clark.
Mr Clark trains a greyhound for a syndicate from Healesville Cricket Club, and inviting the junior football club to train on the course when their grounds were off-limits due to watering restrictions, has introduced the club to a group of locals, many of whom, he said, had never been to the track before.
The 2008-09 season started at the beginning of September and Mr Clark said the investment in time, good sportsmanship and a heap of government funding is lifting the profile of greyhound racing in Healesville.
“We had record nominations for the first two meetings. We had over 200 for the first two meetings and considering we can only 96 can get a start, it’s a very positive indication,” he said.
Attracting more locals is a very solid focus of the club. They want to share the facility with the community.
“They are close to the action and for many people the fact that we now have TAB facilities so punters can have their 50 cent bets on races Australia-wide is a great drawcard,” Mr Clark said.
Close to $1.5 million has been spent on improvements to the facilities over the past 18 months. The last of the major works to be undertaken is a new judges and broadcast tower.
The club is pitching to families with a picturesque setting, barbecue and picnic facilities and plenty of running room for the kids. They can even have a kick of the footy or a game of cricket.
How much punters spend on the bookie of the TAB is up to the individual, but the club makes it easy for families to go along with an entry fee of $5.50 for adults and $3 for pensioners. Children are free.
Events such as Greyhound Racing Victoria’s Great Chase, where a local disability group is allocated a dog and reaps the benefits if they win, reflects the club’s community focus.
The club is enjoying a growing interest for hens’ and bucks’ days and is keen to promote their November and December meetings as the ideal venue for Christmas break-ups and family get togethers. Race meetings are held each Saturday except Christmas week.
For more information phone course manager Gerry Snider on 0418 266 348.
Courtesy : Kath Gannaway, Upper Yarra Mail