Canberra Racing Club will hold a major new Spring-time event with a charitable twist and ambitions rivalling their biggest Black Opal race day.
Canberra Community Chest race day will see 12 local charities and community groups racing for their share of a $250,000 prize pool this November.
One-fifth – or $50,000 – is reserved for the charity chest, with tiered winnings ranging from $25,000 for first place down to $1000 each for the last six places.
Canberra Racing Club chief executive Darren Pearce says he wants to give back to local organisations during what is a difficult time for many in the community.
“I wanted to … showcase the best of Canberra from a racing perspective, from a hospitality perspective and from a community perspective,” he says.
“We can bring our racing community together in a day of giving for the community that supports us, and that’s really important for us.”
Charities, community and sporting groups that apply to be involved will be narrowed down to 11 by an independent committee of three members.
These members include Canberra Business Chamber chair Archie Tsirimokos, Region group editor Genevieve Jacobs and Clubs ACT operations manager Kate Palmer.
“We thought it was important to connect with some real figureheads in Canberra that know the community,” Mr Pearce explains. “We wanted to tap into their wisdom and knowledge to help us make this event as bold as it can be as a community giving event, and to leverage their knowledge of what’s happening in our community to make sure we’re picking really worthy partners.”
All remaining eligible community and charity groups will go to a people’s choice award to determine the final beneficiary.
A draw the week before the charity race, which will take the form of a Quality Open Handicap over 1400 metres, will unite the 12 community heroes with the 12 ‘equine heroes’ racing on their behalf.
The day will also feature a second ‘Single Gaze’ Benchmark 75 for Fillies and Mares over 1200 metres worth $40,000, named after Nick Olive-trained Group 1 winner, Single Gaze, who finished runner-up in the 2016 Caulfield Cup. Long-time Canberra Racing Club sponsor Affinity Electrical Technologies will have naming rights over the inaugural winner of the Single Gaze race.
“We’re just very pleased to be able to help the community because we are an important part of the fabric of the ACT,” said Canberra Racing Club chairman Les Boag at the race launch.
“People don’t realise how big an industry racing is in the Australian economy, how many people it employs across stables, veterinarians, all the supporting services. There’s a massive amount of employment we bring to the region and that helps the economy of the ACT and Southern NSW. It’s very good to be able to give something back”.
The new race day is part of the club’s revamped Spring calendar, which has long been overshadowed by the flagship Black Opal race day in Autumn.
But Mr Pearce says his goal is for the “Spring sister to Black Opal” to change that and potentially grow even larger than its sibling event in future years.
“Over the next few years, as we build the event to something that’s really Canberra significant, the more we build it, the more we can increase the charity purse,” he says. “We’d like to … make the charity purse and prize money purse equal, which would make it Canberra’s richest racing event, but also a massive community giving event.
“We need to build it over time to get to that level, but we’re going to throw all of our powers of good at it to try and achieve that.”
Canberra Community Chest race day will be held on Saturday, 25 November, at Thoroughbred Park, 1 Randwick Road, Lyneham.
Charities and community groups are invited to apply to be involved via Thoroughbred Park’s website before Wednesday, 27 September.