By RHYS CLARK.
The Oakbank Easter Racing Carnival still has legs after a Bill proposed by the Greens last year to ban jumps racing failed to pass through the Upper House.
Protestors may once again be an issue this year, but momentum has dropped off after the legislation to ban the sport failed to pass in September of last year.
Secretary for Oakbank Racing Club, Chris Biggs said that despite the controversy and protests, crowd numbers are expected to be about the same as last year’s crowd numbers.
“Our crowd [for last year] was about normal, which was about 100,000 over two days,” he said.
Mr Biggs said he believes the protestors may have even helped out the event.
“If anything it probably had a positive spin, because purely and simply, many people don’t really support the protestors,” Mr Biggs said.
Not-for-profit organisation Animals Australia, which has been strongly opposed to the Carnival, is encouraging people to boycott the sport on their website, following the death of another horse on the first day of the jumps racing season.
This follows on from a controversial season last year where 11 horses died and several spectators were hospitalised after a horse jumped a fence at Warrnambool.A ban would have been diabolical for the Oakbank weekend, with the feature race being the steeplechase.
However, with the rejection of the Bill, Oakbank can continue to provide spectators with a carnival-like atmosphere over the Easter long weekend.
Mr Biggs said it is an event for the whole family, with the carnival being held on an entire showground.
“There are various rides, there’s an animal nursery, a shooting gallery and there’s a water walker for people to enjoy themselves in… [we] also [have] camel and pony rides,” he said.
Mr Biggs said that there is also a young members’ marquee which has been tailored for young people between the ages of 18 and 35.
20-year-old Daniella Abbracciavento said she will be taking advantage of this over the weekend since she is going with family and friends.
“The kids are all around the same age, so we all get to dress up and have a few drinks and laughs as well as make a few bets and enjoy Easter as a big group,” she said.
Miss Abbracciavento said the “bring your own picnic” nature of the weekend is one of the things that makes Oakbank a drawcard.
“I love being able to enjoy a relaxing picnic whilst still being able to get dressed up and enjoy the day with the family,” she said.
“The picnic is a great way to ensure a stress-free Easter weekend and everyone has a good time.”