The Royal Oak’s Big Day Out

Our 2014 racing year ended over the border in sunny Corowa. It was a winning day on track. How, and where would 2015 kick off ?

The Royal Oak Hotel in North Ftzroy is the hub of many social activites, being a place where you can have a cold beverage, a bet on the nags  and a good catch up with many, many nice people. We have a social club, so there are the days out and about, with this being our first day out in 2015.  Sunday 11/1 dawned bright and sunny, so our grouping gathered at the rubbidy for a heart starter and to plan our bets for the day. The busload of us set off  to Werribee to have our Big Day Out.

Apart from the races, what else about Werribee comes to mind? The marvellous Chirnside family mansion at Werribee Park, a sight to see, or for the more daring, a visit to the open range zoo to meet up nice and close with Lions, Zebras and other exotic wildlife. There’s also Shadowfax winery, the winding Werribee river heading down to the secluded back beaches of Werribee South. All this and more is featured in Werribee, but for us it was a pretty staright forward reason for our visit; A day at the Werribee Races!

They’ve been racing in Werribee since 1861; around the time the first rabbits arrived here! The Chirnside family, of the famous Werribee Mansion, were instrumental in establishing racing, and the provision of the track in this area. Another point: apparently the totalisor was first used at Werribee back in 1935, this being a trendsetter for Victorian racing. Any one have more information re: this point?

Werribee has always stuck in my mind for a horse  who won consecutive Cups just over 3o years ago, he being a rising 10 year old for the second victory. The grand old trooper, Magistrate, won two Werribee  Cups back in 1980 and 1981. He followed this with a victory in the Perth Cup, pipping another of my old favourites, the great stayer from Berrigan, Allez Bijou. Whilst we’re on Werribee Cup winners, Makybe Diva saluted here in 2002, just prior to the first of her three Melbourne Cup victories. Werribee now plays a pivotal role as being the equine quarantine centre for the overseas ‘raiders’!

The first race, a maiden over five furlongs started the day off with a flyer, Luke Currie saluting on the favourite Le Bel Opera. The title being quite appropriate with the ‘So Frenchy, So Chic’ French music and culture festival being conducted that day at Werribee Mansion, and being further emphasised by the tragedies of the recent week in Paris. Je Suis Charlie.

Back to racing now. The track was initially rated a soft 6, though it seemed to run beter than that. The seven race card – what would it hold for us punters? Who would do well ?

Winners? Well yes, there were a fair few. Who do I start to congratulate?  Helen, Deana, Bob and Evie with a nice First 4? Lewella getting a win at her first race meeting? Maryanne sticking with the Whittlesea trained horse, having a nice win bet on the Morgan and Widdison trained Bonaventure on the last? There were a few happy punters in our ranks. Sorry to the other winners who I’ve not given credit to. Of course, a special congratulations to James – another Royal Oak patron. James was on track, but not as part of the social club outing, he had far more important matters to attend to – being the strapper for Three Bears in race five. Three Bears ran into this, its ninth race, having been placed seven times without breaking its maiden status. In many of those races, it was the favourite. Here it finally broke though, winning a 0-58 rated handicap run over five furlongs (1000m). Congratualtions to James and all connections of Three Bears.

Yours truly made a good donation to the TAB and the bookies. Highlighting the day was my outlay on Steel Trigger, the speedy grey from Wangaratta. He’d run a cracking third at Corowa last start, so I was inspired. I made a decent outlay on him as well as putting him in an all up win and place with Slinky Malinky. Slinky Malinky kept his part of the bargain, running a third place and paying $2.70. Steel Trigger also ran a place, finishing third, but as there were only seven starters there was no third dividend. How, in the blue blazes, did I not notice the three scratchings had reduced the field down to seven starters, thus no third dividend? My own fault.

A big thankyou to all involved in this great day, especially our wonderful publican Alison Carey. Werribee has a nice feel to it, being semi rural but not too far a drive. Our seating in the members was spot on, overlooking the finishing line. You couldn’t get a better spot to be seated.



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