It's all go for The Race
By Michael Guerin
The man who made The Race happen knows he is witnessing a miracle.
Not because the $900,000 slot race at Cambridge tonight has actually got off the ground even when several leading industry officials doubted it but because of the remarkable series of events that have unfolded since.
Cambridge chief executive David Branch was given the full support of his board and created the new race which will likely be worth $1 million next season.
When Branch first sought slot holders in December he hoped he would be able to attract one Australian-trained pacer. He got four.
That was aided greatly when the border restrictions between Australia and New Zealand were announced to halt on Tuesday, perfect timing that allows the Australians to be at Cambridge tonight.
“We then had the cyclone warning for this week but it has passed us by and we have a lovely day and night forecast for The Race,” says Branch.
“But when the Government announced (Wednesday) we were moving to Orange setting day of our race I couldn’t believe it. This many things you can’t control never all go right, well not in my life anyway.”
All 500 hospitality seats are sold while Cambridge has already sold 700 general admission tickets, compared with only 100 the day before the Jewels.
“People can buy GA for $25 online and get a $5 betting voucher, free drink, racebook and pen and they can do that right up to the meeting starts, with the ticket sent to their phone.
“We think we will have 1500 people in GA at least and we have the after party till 11.30pm, with no real restrictions now.”
Cambridge relaid the inside half of the racing surface on Friday, blending it in with the older material and a local driver summed it up yesterday by saying simply, “it is fast.”
Branch, and harness racing, have already backed a winner.