Horse racing and horse betting has been a popular past time amongst the residents of Warracknabeal for quite some time now dating back to the 1860’s. The Warracknabeal Racing Club was established shortly after and with a few changes to its common ground and constitution throughout the years it’s still going strong today, and proves to be a big horse race attraction now and in the foreseeable future.
Warracknabeal is a small town situated around 330km’s outside of Melbourne, in Victoria.
The 1960s’s era is when horse racing became a sought after hobby and form of entertainment. It was common back then for farmers in the area to provide paddocks for the horses. The first big horse race took place in 1871 at the Warracknabeal Hotel. The hobby grew so much in such a short time that it was the obvious step to establish a formal race club, which is exactly what they did. The race course moved to its current location and has been there ever since.
In 1890 the club was forced to close down for an extended period of time due to financial issues, and it wasn’t an isolated situation in the horse racing industry. Other race clubs throughout Victoria and Melbourne faced the same issues. In 1899 again the club resurfaced for a good few years but in the 1920’s they went through another hard financial period but managed to recover itself in 1939.
The Warracknabeal Racing Club went through a few hardships throughout the years but still remains standing today. The Warracknabeal Race Course has since partnered with the Wimmera Racing Club, with input from the surrounding communities.
The Warracknabeal Cup is one of the biggest events that take place at the club every year. The event used to take place mid-year in winter, but now happens around March – April and is a highlight in the social calendar for the community members as well as for surrounding areas. The Warracknabeal Cup event has been running from as early as 1954.
In addition, the club carries an average of 5 more major racing events a year such as the Sheep Hills Cup in February.
Up until recently the Warracknabeal Cup has been run mid-year in winter, now that’s it moved to Easter Saturday activities such as fashion competitions and outdoorsy food and wine stalls will feature as well with the weather being a bit warmer. Various prizes can be won by attendees dependent on their dress sense for the day.
The track itself is 20m wide and 1660m long and has seen a host of winners throughout the years. The main feature race, the Warracknabeal Cup race, is a 2 000 metre race in total, and winners can look forward to $15 000 for 1st prize, $4 250 for 2nd, and $2 000 for 3rd, and so on.
Emmetts-John Deere is the new sponsor of the cup and going forward the event will be referred to as the Emmetts-John Deere Warracknabeal Cup.