STAWELL - Ararat Crime Investigation Unit detectives are appealing for witnesses following the suspected deliberate poisoning and ultimate destruction of 1000 meters of the Stawell Race Track.
It is believed the unknown offender or offenders gained entry to the Pomonal Road facility sometime during the week leading up to Tuesday 25 March before poisoning the track.
As a result club and industry officials were left with no choice but to abandon any hope of running the Stawell Gold Cup meeting on Easter Sunday.
The meeting attracts 4000 racegoers each year and is one of the highlights of the Stawell Easter Festival.
Racing Victoria's tracks and facilities team and Stawell Racing Club officials inspected the track on Tuesday and confirmed that a deliberate act was the most likely cause of damage to areas of the racing surface.
Areas of grass between the 300m mark in the home straight and the crossing near the 1300m mark appear to have been poisoned given their erratic and rapid deterioration.
Racing Victoria’s Executive General Manager – Racing, Greg Carpenter, said he was disappointed with the circumstances surrounding the abandonment of the popular Easter Sunday meeting.
“Victoria Police are investigating the circumstances surrounding the incident, but unfortunately it appears there has been a deliberate act to damage the track,” Mr Carpenter said.
"This is both alarming and extremely disappointing that such an iconic meeting, one which is a major attraction for the local community, can be lost in such circumstances."
In the absence of a race meeting, the Club will host a family fun day at the Stawell Racecourse on 20 April to cater for the thousands of people who traditionally converge on the region during the Easter period.
The exciting day will feature the popular ‘Kids Easter Sunday Eggstravaganza’ including supervised sporting activities and Easter-themed entertainment for children as well as full catering and wagering facilities for on-course patrons.
Detectives are appealing for anyone with information to come forward and contact Crime Stoppers on 1800 333 000 or visit. www.crimestoppers.com.au.