Day At The Track

Victorian Country Club of the Year

06:38 AM 07 Nov 2016 NZDT
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Cranbourne
Cranbourne

Cranbourne is the 2016 Victorian Country Club of the Year. Announced during the Country Clubs section of Harness Racing Victoria’s (HRV’s) annual Gordon Rothacker Medal awards last night at Crown Palladium, Cranbourne’s committee was on hand to accept the gong.

“We’ve got a marvellous group of volunteers and a fabulous committee to help us run the club and we’ve also got a very professional CEO in Neil Bainbridge,” Cranbourne president Duncan McPherson said.

“We’re lucky we benefit with the multi-use of the venue with two other racing codes.”

Mr McPherson said working alongside such passionate people was great fun.

“These guys are a very good crew. They’re very professional, great fun, super fellowship and for all of us we just really enjoy it,” he said.

Cranbourne was awarded the Club of the Year trophy for its efforts to bolster engagement and participation in the region through a strategic direction.

The club’s training centre is also stronger than ever, while the club has thrown its weight behind the important area of ownership promotion by making syndication as easy and affordable as possible.

Cranbourne also hosted a variety of race nights to introduce new people to the trots, including an 'aging positively' night and a 'girls’ night out'.

The club also undertook a brand transformation to become known as Trots Cranbourne.

Warragul picked up two awards, Best Country Cup Meeting and Best Local Traditional Media.

The Warragul Cup meeting in 2015-16 saw attendance doubled on the season prior, while on-course wagering was also up.

The club was praised for its significant pre-promotion of the event and for offering a range of family activities including free children’s rides and live music.

Warragul’s efforts to engage with local media were driven by Kyle Galley, whose passion for the trots is unwavering.

Galley’s perseverance saw thousands of words celebrating the Warragul trots spread throughout eastern Victoria, including publication in the Warragul and Drouin Gazette, Pakenham Gazette, West Gippsland Trader and Latrobe Valley Express, as well as the Melbourne Observer and Harness Racing Weekly.

“I’m very proud to be able to accept this award,” Mr Galley said.

“It is still a buzz to open the local paper and see my work after many years.”

The Geelong club picked up the Best Local Media Digital award for its performance on social media and its website, promoting its offerings and the industry to Geelong and surrounding communities.

Outgoing Mildura boss Mark Kemp picked up the Frank Ryan Memorial Secretary of the Year honour for the fourth time.

Mr Kemp has overseen the growth of the Mildura Cup carnival, which continues to go from strength to strength each year.

The 2016 Mildura Cup saw wagering up 23 per cent and attendance up 27 per cent.

Mr Kemp will end his 22-year association with Mildura this December.

The trophy for Club of the Year (16 meetings or less) went to Stawell, which, under the guidance of Lisa McIlvride and Peter Sanderson, continues to progress.

The club continued to grow its newest race-day event, Australia day, in 2016 and undertook major upgrades to its trackside venue, including the bistro and dining room to help increase revenue on both race-days and non-racing days.

“It was a huge year for us at Stawell … I’d like to thank our president and committee, my husband for putting up with me, and all the volunteers,” Ms McIlvride said. “I’d also like to thank all those backing up tomorrow and racing at Stawell.”

Horsham took the honours in Secretary of the Year (16 meetings or less) with Jo Cross acknowledged for her tireless and ongoing commitment.

The Yarra Valley club captured the award for Best Presented Track/Venue, while Shepparton’s Super Heroes Day Out won Best On-Course Promotion for the season and Kyabram was named Graduation Club & Secretary of the Year.

Meanwhile, Mavis Collison was acknowledged for years of voluntary service to the Bendigo club, presented with the AVCHRC Volunteer Service Award. 

For over 25 years Mrs Collison has volunteered at Bendigo and is known as the face of the club to many owners, trainers and drivers.

Overseeing management of the supper room, Mrs Collison said she was driven by her passion for the industry.

"I don’t do it for thanks or anything else, I do it because I love it," she said.

“Making people happy to have sandwiches, cake and a cup of tea, that's the main thing."

The Collison family is well-known among Bendigo trots with Mavis's husband, Ivan, also a volunteer trial steward.

And Mildura's Barry Bottams was awarded the Distiguished Service Medal for a long involvement in the industry across various roles.

“This is very exciting and unexpected," Mr Bottams said.

"Thanks very much to the selectors."

Mr Bottams has been involved hands-on with the horses and also behind the scenes working for the club. He said he enjoyed all roles in the industry.

"I think both working horses and flying the flag for club have been a thrill. I get a thrill for winning but also from the club being successful," he said. 

COUNTRY CLUB AWARDS 2016

Graduation Club & Secretary of the Year: Kyabram

Best On-Course Promotion: Shepparton’s Super Heroes Day Out

Best Presented Track/Venue: Yarra Valley

Best Local Media Traditional: Warragul

Best Local Media Digital: Geelong

Secretary of the Year (16 meetings or less): Jo Cross (Horsham)

Club of the Year (16 meetings or less): Stawell

Frank Ryan Memorial Secretary of the Year: Mark Kemp (Mildura)

Club of the Year: Cranbourne

Best Country Cup Meeting: Warragul

Distinguished Service Award: Barry Bottams

AVCHRC Volunteer Award: Mavis Collison

Cody Winnell (HRV Media/Communications Manager)

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