From Adelaide Hills, to Clare Valley, to the South East and provincial Gawler, thoroughbred racing stretches across SA over the Easter long weekend.
Four meetings in three days equals a cavalcade of on-course action and off-course entertainment, catering for all thoroughbred classes and all racegoers’ tastes – in ideal weather.
An iconic SA racing double returns on Saturday, with Oakbank staging the final day of its revamped three-day carnival, together with the Clare Valley Racing Club’s beloved Easter meeting.
Penola Racing Club hosts its Penola Cup meeting on Sunday, while racing heads to Gawler on Monday for Gawler & Barossa Jockey Club’s Barossa Cup meeting.
“What a fabulous weekend of racing in South Australia,” said Racing SA industry marketing manager Michelle Greene.
“It highlights the width and reach of racing in our state, and also the sport’s connection to the Easter long weekend.”
Oakbank’s new-look, rejuvenated carnival comprises three meetings in six days, culminating in Saturday’s nine-race meeting, highlighted by several feature races. The concept was to be launched last year, before coronavirus restrictions dictated otherwise.
However, ideal weather conditions and a fresh buzz about the carnival have contributed to a positive vibe heading into Saturday’s meeting, according to Oakbank Racing Club CEO Shane Collins.
“We couldn’t run the three-day carnival last year, but it’s all systems go this year,” Mr Collins said.
“We’re looking forward to a big crowd – under COVID-19 conditions – on Saturday and there’s a lot of excitement about the meeting.”
The Clare Valley Racing Club is also racing on Saturday, with its seven-race meeting set to attract close to its maximum 5000 crowd. The meeting was also a coronavirus victim last year, but enthusiasm across the Clare and wider community is peaking ahead of the traditional Easter event, considered an important social event and a timely boost to the local economy.
After Saturday’s double-header, attention turns to the Penola Racing Club for its eight-race Penola Cup meeting. Gates open at 11am and the club is pulling out all stops to make the day a success.
Monday marks the second time the Gawler & Barossa Jockey Club has hosted its Barossa Cup meeting over Easter, but this year crowds will be allowed on track, unlike in 2020.
Ms Greene says the blend of meetings ensures the weekend offers “something for everyone”.
“We’re fortunate to have such wonderful and diverse racetrack venues across South Australia and this weekend really showcases that,” she said.
“It’s a great weekend for racing across the state, with South Australian horses, trainers and jockeys combining to put on a great display of our wonderful sport.”