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Yarra Valley racecourse back in action

It has been a two-year wait, and it has taken $2.6 million worth of investment, but Yarra Valley racecourse is finally back in action.

The country Victorian circuit pulled in a small crowd of locals, the Minister for Racing, Denis Napthine, and decent sized fields for its re-opening on Sunday afternoon.

It would have been hard to find a greater contrast to the glamour and drama of Black Caviar's amazing return to the track at Flemington 24 hours earlier, but, for grass roots racing supporters, it was nonethless a significant event at the picturesque venue north east of Melbourne.

The venue was shut down in December 2010 after holes were discovered on the course, the culmination of a difficult period in which the surrounding areas had first been ravaged by the Black Saturday bushfires a couple of years earlier. The track was then inundated by heavy rains with the racecourse flooded five times in the following years.

This was a low-key return as Yarra Valley is easing itself back into the calendar with just two other meetings this year. Its $100,000 Yarra Valley Cup (1950 metres) will be run on March 17 at a Saint Patrick's Day ''Irish Themed'' meeting, and it follows up five weeks later with an Anzac Day fixture.

The cash for the refurbishment came in part from the State Government, which put up $1.3 million, and Racing Victoria, which invested $650,000. The club itself invested $650,000 through a loan from the disaster relief fund.

''Our main task is to let people know we are back and racing,'' says CEO Brett Shambrook. ''Because we have been out of action so long there's a perception that we might have shut down permanently. Today is a start, our main focus is on the Cup Day meeting next month, and hopefully we will have a bigger profile in 2013-14.''

''Its a magnificent course at a magnifecent venue,'' Napthine added.

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