Altona Beach was buzzing with excitement on Sunday morning (October 28), as champion thoroughbred, Winx splashed about our shoreline. Coming off the back of an incredible fourth Cox Plate win, and a record breaking 29th straight victory, this glorious mare took it in her stride – oblivious to all the fuss.
Winx is not the first history-making horse to hang about in Hobsons Bay. With the Spring Racing Carnival in full swing and the race that stops a nation, less than a week away, it’s the perfect time to reflect on a little horse racing history.
It is a little-known fact, that the great Phar Lap raced at Williamstown Racecourse, winning the Underwood Stakes in 1931. The Williamstown Racecourse is a central component of the history of Hobsons Bay. Racing took place at the track for almost 100 years, before a fire sadly destroyed both grandstands in 1950. The racing club never recovered from the setback. The remnants of the stands remain and the existing path which follows the old track, is still a beautiful place for running.
The spirit of racing will be resurrected at the Williamstown Racecourse this Melbourne Cup Eve, as the Hobson’s Bay Running Club hosts its annual Phar Lap Run. Runners will take on the 3.218-kilometre circuit – the original Melbourne Cup distance – at what is now the Altona Coastal Park. Members of the community are invited to join in at this free event.
One particularly prominent member of the community is quite keen to partake – none other than Hobsons Bay’s Mayor, Angela Altair. Her enthusiasm for the event, quite evident:
“I’m rapt we’re doing the Phar Lap run because, of course, Williamstown has an historic link to the famous horse. He won the Underwood Stakes in 1931 at Williamstown Racecourse. I’m passionate about local history and the fact that we’ll be running – me, more a sedate trot – on the very spot where the Wonder Horse once raced – it gives me goose bumps!”
The Hobos, as the Hobsons Bay Running Club are affectionately known, understands the passion for local history. Club member, Aaron McAleese describes the event as being, a “connection between community, physical activity and embracing the wonderful history that Hobsons Bay has. Phar Lap is iconic, the Williamstown Racing Club is iconic – running it on the eve of the Melbourne Cup, makes it part of that festival.”
The fastest time for the event was 11:03.4, by Nathan Tumarus in 2016. If that is not enough of a challenge, Phar Lap ran the distance in 3:27.7 when winning the Melbourne Cup in 1930.
The Hobos have been part of the community for over 15 years and have runs, training and events throughout the week for runners (and walkers) of all abilities.
The race, on Monday November 5, will start at 6.45pm, with registration from 6.15pm, on Pines Scout Camp Road, off Altona Road (Melway ref 55-B9). Entry is free and open to all ages, (children must be accompanied). The race will be followed by a barbecue.
Melissa Longo – Aaron McAleese
More details can be found at http://hobos.org.au/
*Photos provided by Hobsons Bay Running Club