On Saturday, Balnarring Racing Club celebrated 150 years of picnic racing at Emu Plains Reserve. It’s a remarkable achievement for a club that formed all the way back in 1863 under the name Hastings and Balnarring Racing Club. To put it into context, 150 years ago the Melbourne Cup had been run only twice, Australia did not have a federal government (not necessarily a bad thing) and the price of a loaf of bread was around eight pence. More than a century-and-a-half later, the traditions of the Balnarring Racing Club continue to shine through, further encapsulating the true spirit and character of the picnic racing community.
On the track, Clay Beasy continued his impressive season with a winning double on a day of fluctuating weather conditions. He claimed his first victory on board High Regal in the third, booting the six-year-old gelding clear in the straight to record a solid three-length victory. Two races later, Beasy notched up the second of his double, flying home late on King Sudurka to take out the Quilly Park Open Trophy Handicap in scintillating fashion.
Earlier in the day, $13 chance Pelvstroem, ridden by Tyson Buck, kicked clear at the top of the straight to record a 1.75-length win in the first over the fast-finishing Fleur De Louis; while in the second, Adam Bodey, in possibly his final appearance at Balnarring (if you dare believe the rumours), recorded his only win of the day with a dominant display aboard favourite Jive Music. In race four, Stephanie Dorning joined the boys in the winner’s circle after turning five-wide at the top of the straight before rounding up the field on Kilkenny Cats.
The final race of the day – the Balnarring Picnic Easter Cup over 2000 metres – was a fittingly tight finale, with the top four runners finishing within two lengths of each other. Ultimately, it was the Fran Houlahan & Brian Johnston trained eight-year-old Zaman ($3 favourite) who prevailed over Umanugget after jockey Clayton Douglas sat off the pace early and stormed home late to deny Clay Beasy a winning treble.
Many thanks to the Balnarring Racing Club for another successful picnic racing season 150 years in the making. Only fifty more years until the bicentennial. Mark it in your diary now!
Next week marks the final meeting of the season as we head to Healesville for only their second meeting of the season. Early weather predictions are looking good with a fine and warm 26 deg. predicted.