Seona Kelly-Pearce, Lane Ritchie (on knee) and Chester Ritchie met some slithery wildlife up close. A15_0222

Lily Stephens, Andy and Lauren Keeble, and Chelsea Stephens were among the happy faces at Stony Creek. A07_0222

IT WAS a great family day out at the Stony Pony Fun Day, run by the Stony Creek Racing Club, on Tuesday, January 4.

There was a healthy turnout despite the weather threatening to turn nasty.

Fortunately, that never occurred, with conditions remaining pleasant throughout the event.

After the disappointment of being unable to hold the second half of the December 27 meeting’s race program due to an issue with the track, all eight races went ahead this time.

The going was firm, with the track initially rated a good 4, then being upgraded to a good 3 after race two.

On course action began with the South Gippsland Sentinel-Times Maiden Plate, which at 2100m was the equal longest race of the day.
Artillery Force claimed the honours in that event.

There were no feature races, with the day catering mainly to horses that generally race on country tracks.

However, race five, the Pink Roses Handicap offered a chance for reflection.

The race day booklet paid tribute to young women with links to Stony Creek whose lives were cut short by cancer.

While horse racing enthusiasts had an action-packed day on the track, there was plenty of other entertainment on offer.

“It’s always imperative to be able to entertain people when they’re at the races, and a lot of people who may be in the area holidaying mightn’t be avid horse racing fans,” Stony Creek Racing Club CEO Adam Olszanski said.

He explained that providing a variety of entertainment options acts as a drawcard to get such people through the gates and noted some of them may become racing fans.

With a mix of children’s activities, tasty food options and live music, you don’t have to be a racing enthusiast to have a great day.

Michelle Gilmour was at the track with family.

“My sister came last year and recommended coming down for kids’ day,” she said.

The family has a Toora property, and Michelle’s mum Eleanor O’Callaghan was at the track early, looking forward to the day’s racing.

“It’s a nice little course,” Eleanor said.

Adam was delighted to see people out and about and spoke of the importance for the local community of race meetings with crowds at Stony Creek.

“This club is backed by smaller community clubs that run a lot of the event services, gate staff, the bars, the canteens, so for them to be able to have an opportunity to fundraise is of huge importance to the local community,” he said.

Representatives of some of those community organisations are paid for their work at race meetings, with the money going into their organisation, while other local organisations and clubs raise funds through sales on the day.

Geoff Parkinson offered warm and friendly greetings as he manned the entry to the members’ section, with the money the racing club paid for his services flowing to the South Gippsland Umpire’s Association to which he belongs.

The Meeniyan-Stony Creek Fire Brigade sold raffle tickets throughout the day to raise crucial funds.

Stony Pony Fun Day offered children of various ages a mix of sporting and other activities.

Kelly Sports was on hand to supervise team sporting competitions, with young participants able to join and leave as they wished throughout the day.

The organisation also provided a range of ‘pickup’ games, ideal for younger children to enjoy with parents.

During summer, Kelly Sports is contracted to Country Racing Victoria to provide sporting opportunities for young race meeting attendees.

Patron Dean Teniswood took on young daughter Isabella in one of the pickup games, totem tennis.

“We’re staying over at the Tarra Valley and we’ve come to the event because country racing is a good day out for the kids and good for the adults as well,” Dean said.

He mentioned that as well as sport, his children were enthusiastic about face painting and the animal farm.

Groups of children enjoyed meeting and touching animals, including lizards.

Former jockey Chris Symons’ business Funky Farm brought animals along for the day.

Tractor trailer rides were available for children and their family members, adding to the day’s fun.

The next Stony Creek race meeting is on Tuesday, February 1, with the Ladbrokes Stony Creek Cup to be held on Sunday, March 13.

Publicans’ Day takes place in between those two events, on Monday, February 14, with friendly competition between local pubs adding to the day’s entertainment.