The Benalla Gold Cup has been reprogrammed and will be held on Saturday, March 25, next year..
Wet weather forced the Benalla Gold Cup meeting to be abandoned on September 30, with heavy rainfall in the 24 hours prior leaving the track in an unsuitable condition to race on the day.
A replacement meeting has been programmed for Saturday, March 25, with the $50000 Benalla Gold Cup — to be run over an amended distance of 1600m — the feature event on the eight-race program.
It is anticipated that the Benalla Gold Cup will return to its traditional Grand Final Eve position in the spring of next year, where it will be held over its original 2040m distance.
The new Benalla program will support the Melbourne Racing Club’s feature Mornington Cup meeting, which will also be conducted on the day.
Racing Victoria racing operations manager Paul Bloodworth said the new date represented an opportunity for the Benalla Racing Club to host a feature race meeting in the autumn racing period.
‘‘While naturally disappointed to have lost the original Benalla Cup meeting to wet weather, we are pleased to be able to facilitate a date for the club to host a feature meeting early next year,’’ Mr Bloodworth said.
‘‘The autumn edition of the cup will be held over a reduced distance of 1600m, so as not to conflict with the existing Mornington Cup day program, before returning to its traditional 2040m journey in the spring of 2017.
‘‘We believe that the new autumn date gives the club the opportunity to ensure that a cup day celebration is not lost to the local community this racing season, as Benalla Cup day is popular day with both punters and participants within the region.’’
Benalla Racing Club chief executive Cameron Symes said he was delighted the club had the chance to host a feature cup meeting in March.
‘‘We are thrilled for to be able to transfer the Benalla Cup to Saturday, March 25,’’ Mr Symes said.
‘‘The community really get behind cup day each year.
‘‘We had a 70 per cent increase in our pre-purchased ticket sales before our abandoned cup meeting in September, so to have the opportunity to ensure those people have the chance to head trackside and enjoy a fantastic day out in Benalla is a great result for our team.’’