By Ben Pritchard
As far west as you can get in Victoria for greyhound racing, the Horsham Greyhound Racing Club has seen their annual TAB Great Chase community days come ahead in leaps and bounds in recent years.
Sadly, with crowds currently not allowed on course due to the COVID-19 pandemic, greyhound racing’s Great Chase community days aren’t a part of the 2020 series, but the annual event at Horsham has become an important staple on the town’s calendar.
Drawing crowds in their hundreds, the day involves local community groups participating in a twilight race meeting combined with a tradition roast dinner that the Horsham club is now famous for in local circles.
In 2019 we saw Colin and Russel from Ararat with the team from Manna Gums Nursery and Wood ‘n’ Crete, on track for the 15th consecutive year. The pair explained that the Great Chase is more than just a day at the races – it is also an opportunity to socialise with old mates.
“The guys make connections with other groups and make lifelong friends at the greyhounds; and that keeps us coming back year after year,” said Colin. “The day is so great, and we use any winnings to expand the program and provide more day programs.”
Community groups are randomly partnered with greyhounds competing on the day, with the dogs that race successfully amassing prize money for the organisations.
Heather and her Warrack Warriors returned in 2019 after they snared a significant windfall the previous year. She was keen to let us know that they spent their winnings from their day at the Horsham greyhounds on a trip to the greyhounds in Melbourne.
“We went to the Great Chase Grand Final at The Meadows and arranged to stay overnight, so we could have two days away.”
“The social aspect of the days is the best part – the participants have made friends with the other groups, so it’s a chance to catch up and have a great meal and a night of fun at the greyhounds. We love it.”
The biggest winners last year at Horsham were the EW Tipping Foundation (Baillie). Group members Sandra and Jon were excited to walk away with the top prize of $1,000.
“We love coming to the greyhounds, we get to have good food and get free showbags,” said Jon. Sandra added: “Watching the dogs race is the best.”
Organisers are looking forward to being back on course for the 2021 TAB Great Chase to share in the joy and excitement with community groups in the Horsham region.
The Great Chase is Victorian greyhound racing’s number one community event, distributing almost $650,000 to the disability sector since 2003.