Benalla Racing Club is ready for the new season after a busy winter break.
The new racing season began on August 1, but Benalla’s preparations have been going for many months on and off the course.
The club secured a new major sponsor, with bet365 signing on for the next two years with the option of a third.
Benalla Racing Club manager Cameron Symes said the agreement with the betting company would help the club achieve many things during the deal.
The sponsorship will extend to the club’s major race day, which will be labelled the bet365 Benalla Gold Cup, set to once again race on the grand final Friday public holiday, which this year falls on September 29.
The club is particularly looking forward to its cup day after last year’s was abandoned due to heavy rainfall and moved to March.
The racecourse facilities have also received some work during the break from racing, with $100000 spent on improving the horse stalls and $50000 on extending the female jockeys’ room.
Winning owners will benefit from an extention to the winners’ lounge, while the club also extended its deck overlooking the home straight, making it the premium location on course.
Benalla Racing Club president Greg McNulty said the club was in a strong position to start the new season.
‘‘Thanks to funding from Racing Victoria and the Andrews Labor Government, we were able to complete some much-needed improvements,’’ McNulty said.
‘‘With the female participation growing so quickly, we felt it important to prioritise the jockey room extension.
‘‘We want the Benalla Racing Club to be an attractive place for participants as well as punters.’’
McNulty said the club was eagerly anticipating its first race day of the season on Monday, September 4, when it hosts the Techwool Trading Farmers’ Day Out.
‘‘We’ve already got 200 booked in for the day, and Merv Hughes is hosting the marquee, so it promises to be a great return to racing,’’ he said