It was a Ladbrokes Friday Night Lights season that had it all, including racing behind closed doors for much of the season, however a record result in wagering turnover achieved in season 24 of night racing at The Valley was a shining light amongst a difficult season to deliver.
$398M was wagered over the 16 Ladbrokes Friday Night Light race meetings, a 31% increase on last season (15 race meetings) and 24% increase on a like-for-like comparison, a record wagering result since the inception of night racing at The Valley in 1998.
Due to the lockdowns in Melbourne and restrictions placed on crowds, the gates were opened for the first time in December for a restricted number of owners and members, with the numbers increasing and the public allowed on course late in January until the season end for the Group 1 Keogh Homes William Reid Stakes on March 19.
“It was one of the most challenging seasons ever encountered in my time and to be able to complete the season during a global pandemic and with record wagering results, it’s a great outcome for the Club,” said Michael Browell, MVRC CEO.
“While the Club took a significant financial hit racing behind closed doors for the majority of the season, we were just grateful that we could continue racing due the brilliant work from Racing Victoria and all participants.
“A special mention to our major partner Ladbrokes for their fantastic support, the members of the Moonee Valley Racing Club for their patience and loyalty and for our media partners, especially Racing.Com, who beamed all the action into lounge rooms when many viewers were enduring lockdown,” said Browell.
“Through all the challenges of a global pandemic it was an amazing effort from the Australian racing industry and in particular participants and stakeholders in Victoria to continue to race,” said Ladbrokes Director – Corporate Development, Karl deKroo.
“We are immensely proud of our partnership with the MVRC and the strength of our relationship was underlined again through a period of such adversity.
“The Valley is one of Australia’s most iconic racecourses and there is nothing like a Friday night under lights in the Ladbrokes Lounge.
“Congratulations to The Valley team for delivering a full program and a record-breaking wagering result. We can’t wait to get back to the track when the new season commences on September 24.”
Despite the lack of crowds, the show rolled on and three Group 1 winners were crowned over the 2020/21 season at The Valley.
Chris Meagher’s speedy mare Pippie took out the Charter Keck Cramer Moir Stakes, Tony & Calvin McEvoy’s seven-year-old veteran Hey Doc claimed his second Ladbrokes Manikato Stakes and Masked Crusader ran away with the Keogh Homes William Reid Stakes for Team Hawkes.
The Club are thankful to Ladbrokes for their continued support throughout the Ladbrokes Friday Night Lights season, in particular for the Ladbrokes 55 Second Challenge, a series that has become a staple part of night racing and one that has provided many highlights throughout the season.
This season, the 955m course record was remarkably broken twice, both by Tony & Calvin McEvoy trained sprinters. Meteorite ran 54.54 on October 2 and looked the winner throughout, however in the final heat of the series on March 19, Sisstar stopped the clock at 54.45, not only defeating her stablemate’s time and winning the series, but also breaking the track record.
“That was absolutely incredible, to be the last heat again to run the record, that’s really flying isn’t it?” jubilant trainer Tony McEvoy said post-race.
“A big thank you to Ladbrokes, this is such a significant thing for us trainers,” McEvoy added after collecting the $55,000 cheque with son Calvin.
Jamie Kah continued her magnificent form at The Valley this season, winning the 2020/21 Drummond Golf Ride of the Season on Danny O’Brien’s Sovereign Award on October 2. Sovereign Award was slowly away and ended up pocketed on the fence, but the soft hands and patience of Jamie Kah saw the mare save all the ground, slice through the field, and prove too strong for her rivals.
We are grateful to Drummond Golf for sponsoring the series as Jamie Kah took home the major prize and collected the $2,500 Drummond Golf Voucher.
Jamie Kah also looks certain to add the Catanach’s Jockey Premiership to her stellar season with just one race meeting remaining on July 31, which is awarded to the jockey who accumulates the most points during The Valley season of 2020/21. On the 3,2,1 point scoring system, Kah looks like a run-away victor with 84.5 points, with Damien Oliver currently second on 61.5 points.
The Cheering for Charity initiative also continued in great style this season, with the MVRC able to raise over $7,375 for the nine charities that took part. A great cause for all involved, supported by Ladbrokes and promoted by Racing.Com, and hopefully the Club can continue to pick more winners and raise more money in the seasons to come.
A season of plenty of highs and challenges rolled into one, the 2021/22 Ladbrokes Friday Night Lights season will be back bigger and better for season 25 under lights on September 24 for the Group 1 Moir Stakes race meeting.