It has been just under 12 months since we’ve seen racing at Sportsbet-Ballarat racetrack in Ballarat, and the man in the hot seat of returning racing to this fabulous venue, Ballarat Turf Club CEO Lachlan McKenzie, was a man on a mission today.
I first spotted him at the mounting yard before the first race, where he was taking care of business, as only he can do.
On the outside he appeared up to the challenge of getting this wonderful racetrack back to where it should be, racing, and attracting the best horses, jockeys and trainers to one of the best country racing venues going around.
On the inside though, there must have been plenty of trepidation on how the track would play today.
Would it play fair? Would it stand up to the rigours of racing? Would the horses and jockeys give it the tick of approval? Would it appease the masses?
Through lengthy track upgrades, ongoing renovations, and relentless curve balls that would test the best of them, if the Ballarat CEO was churning on the inside, you wouldn’t know it by looking at him.
Our paths crossed a few times throughout what would be a very successful day for the Ballarat Turf Club, and suffice to say, each time it was a more relaxed Lachlan McKenzie greeting me as positive track feedback continued to flow in by all and sundry.
I suspect, the excellent feedback by the country’s leading jockeys would have given Lachie tremendous contentment too.
After a great day at the races I caught up with the man on a mission and asked him how the track had played.
“The track has raced even better than we expected,” Lachlan said.
“Obviously we need to be aware that it’s still compacted, so some work to do over the dry months before next winter, but really, the way it has played today has been fantastic.”
“We’ve had some great feedback from all the jockeys and pretty good racing.”
“It’s good to see horses winning from the middle of the track, from behind, on the speed, and on the rail, all over the place.”
“Overall we’re very happy with the way the track has played and a very strong crowd turned out for a midweek meeting.”
“The E.J. Whitten Foundation brought 130 people here and there’s about 100 at a member’s function, plus the walk ups, so overall, a very good day.”
I think Lachie was simply being modest, because this was a great day for the Ballarat Turf Club and their hard working team.
It was also a great day for the local community and racing in general.
Despite a number of setbacks, racing is back at Sportsbet-Ballarat again and that can only be good for racing!
I also spotted the club’s Executive Assistant & Events Manager, Belinda Clark, during the day, she looked like a woman on a mission.
Mission accomplished by all the Ballarat Turf Club team I’d say, now when’s the next meeting?
Head over to the Ballarat Turf Cub website and find out.