It’s on again! The tradition continues and all roads lead to Ballarat for Australia’s richest race for battlers, The Hotham.
To mark the second running of the Victoria’s richest Maiden race Sportsbet has increased prizemoney from $50,000 to $75,000. The online bookmaker has lifted the return for the also-rans with the 10th placegetter to receive $3000, up from $1000.
Sportsbet chief executive Barni Evans was delighted to announce the increases and believes the Hotham can become a regular highlight on Sportsbet Ballarat’s racing calendar.
“Racing is known as the sport of kings, but at the end of the day there are plenty of battlers that contribute just as much to the industry as those at the high end,” Evans said.
“The Sportsbet Hotham gives an opportunity for those at the coal face to be part of a showcase event that celebrates country racing.”
“We’re committed to building on the success of last year and making The Hotham an event that celebrates racing. We want to provide a platform to tell the untold stories of country trainers, their beloved battlers and their love of racing at any level.”
Ballarat chief executive Lachlan McKenzie said The Hotham proved to be a huge success and ranked it third behind Ballarat Cup day and the club’s big Grand National Steeple meeting.
“Last year was awesome. The Hotham was warmly received and the atmosphere on the day was fantastic. The Sportsbet Ballarat Cup and Grand National are our premier events, but Hotham day was outstanding and something we’re very proud to be associated with.”
McKenzie said the club had already receiving inquiries about this year’s race.
“The Hotham has generated so much interest and it is now a target race. We’re aware of a couple of trainers that are looking to buy horses to set for The Hotham.”
Echuca trainer Dean Boal is one trainer that has targeted The Hotham. His mare Beau Dazzle, a $500 buy and still a maiden after 72 starts, finished eighth in last year’s inaugural Hotham.
Despite her record, Boal believes he might have found the key to her success and is desperate to get Beau Dazzle to The Hotham.
“We found a haematoma in her bum and she’s been treated for that, so I’m working to have her right for The Hotham,” Boal said. “It’s a great concept, they should have more of them. It gives us battlers a chance at some good prizemoney and we don’t have trainers like Weiry (Darren Weir) and Mick Price to contend with.”
“So I definitely want to get Beau back to Ballarat. She’s paid her way for me and has only run 10 lasts in her lifetime, so she deserves a win.”
Last year’s Hotham attracted 137 nominations, which was a record for a Victorian Maiden. The winner, Woohoo, made the journey from Tasmania and has not won another race since.
The Hotham is etched in the Victorian racing program and interest is already high with nominations already received. Contenders are expected to come from far and wide and there is also international interest as connections strive for their breakthrough win in The Hotham.