Racing Victoria has short-listed four regional racetracks to host the state’s inaugural foray into the Good Friday sporting landscape.
Acting Racing Minister Jaala Pulford introduced the landmark and necessary amendment to the Racing Act before parliament on Tuesday afternoon.
In conjunction with Country Racing Victoria, the state racing regulator will decide between Benalla, Echuca, Sale and Wangaratta for the April 15 meeting.
The move sees Victorian racing join the likes of AFL, NRL and NBL on Good Friday.
The Royal Children’s Hospital’s Good Friday Appeal will benefit from the program, which will be anchored around a headline race.
Thoroughbred racing has been held on Good Friday in Western Australia and Tasmania for some time.
The new Victorian meeting will be rotated annually.
RV chief executive Giles Thompson welcomed the new legislation.
“We’re excited about the possibility of creating a feature raceday that makes country Victoria a focal point on Good Friday for racing fans and provides another incentive for holidaymakers to venture into country Victoria over Easter,” Thompson said.
“We want this raceday to be a destination event for country Victoria, one that showcases different areas of our state through an annual rotation, thus supporting the different country communities that promote racing year-round.”
Thoroughbred, harness racing and greyhound codes have indicated they will look to program meetings in regional areas in 2022, to drive tourism and bolster local jobs.
The Racing Amendment Bill introduced on Tuesday made a number of other administrative changes, including simplifying the process for the appointment of an Acting Racing Integrity Commissioner, should the need arise, provisions around racing on ANZAC Day uniform between the codes.
The Government has no plan to overturn the prohibition on racing on Christmas Day.
The Victorian racing industry generates $4.3bn for the local economy each year and helps sustain more than 33,800 full-time-equivalent jobs.
Acting Racing Minister Jaala Pulford said: “Victorian racing will move in line with provisions in other states, and to an equal footing with competitions including the AFL and local football leagues, the NRL and the NBL,” Pulford said.
“Racing codes have indicated they plan to schedule meetings in regional areas which will provide a boost for tourism, adding an extra dimension for people planning Easter getaways.”