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Avoca Racecourse Saved

Country racing came to a standstill during the war years of 1939-45, many of the courses folded and those that didn’t had little in resources to go on with.

There was little money available, many of the racecourses were closed voluntarily, many fell into disrepair, and committees disbanded, eventually people lost interest, there was more to think about in that era.

The courses that didn’t close came under severe scrutiny as to show cause why they should continue to hold a licence, to act as a racecourse.

High on the list was Avoca, Chairman of the Victoria Racing Club, Sir Chester Manifold, and Tom Austin, Chairman of the Racecourse’s Licences Board, paid a visit to the course with the express purpose of having it closed.  

The secretary of the race club, Keith Astbury, was notified of their coming, he was there to meet them at the gate.

Stepping from the car Sir Chester immediately said, “we cannot close this course, this man is Keith Astbury, he is a war hero, a member of the dam busters crew that crippled Nazi Germany, shortening the war by several months, saving thousands of lives.

Avoca racecourse and the club had a reprieve, the track was nothing more than a clay pan for several years, however, the club had a resilient committee, they worked as a team and have succeeded.

They had a great team of workers and still have the club, they have gone from success to success with a very able secretary in Kate Kirkpatrick, and Ben Sporle, a competent young race caller will be on hand to call his sixth Avoca Cup on Saturday.

Kate Kirkpatrick - image

Kate Kirkpatrick

 

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