Donald ready for Easter Sunday race meeting

PREPARATIONS for Stawell's Easter Sunday race meeting are complete at the Donald and District Racing Club.

The Stawell Gold Cup is traditionally run at the Stawell Racecourse during Easter each year, but the cup was relocated because of a suspected act of vandalism that rendered the track unsafe.

The meeting was transferred to Donald in order to keep the race in the Wimmera during Easter Sunday.

Prizemoney for the feature race has been reduced from $50,000 to $30,000 and it is now an open-handicap race over 2000 metres.

It will still be called the Stawell Gold Cup and the winner will be presented with a trophy from Stawell Racing Club.

Donald and District Racing Club president Pat O'Reilly said he was anticipating a good day of racing.

"The track is in excellent order - the rain last week was very helpful and evened her up and she's looking a picture," he said.

"Because of what happened with Stawell, we're not expecting 1000 people by any means, but if we end up with an above-average crowd of 400 or 500, that would be lovely.

"We expect a nice comfortable crowd and the weather to be fine."

Mr O'Reilly said the club was surprised to be hosting the cup, but was not taken off guard by the sudden transfer.

"We've always been told to make sure we can run within 48 hours of notification, so we're always half-ready to go when we do get a call anyway," he said.

"We didn't expect to get it under the circumstances that we did, but we're grateful that the industry looked upon us to give us the opportunity."

Nine horses will run in the main event of the relocated cup.

The Darren Weir-trained Shiny Buttons will be one of the biggest names in the cup.

Stawell trainers Paul Jones and Terry and Karina O'Sullivan will also feature, Jones with Mujadale and the O'Sullivans with Magnapal.

Mr O'Reilly said the club was happy with the total of about 100 acceptances across the eight-race card, from a total of 260 nominations.

The first race on the card is at 12.35pm.

Warracknabeal will also host an annual Easter race meet on Saturday.

It is a non-TAB event, with the first of six races commencing at 1.45pm.

There will also be live music, an Easter egg hunt, and a fashions on the field competition.

Entry is $15 at the gate or $12 pre-paid, with children under 17 admitted free.

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