This Friday’s Gold Cup will not be the last one held at the current Murray Bridge Racecourse, but that day is drawing near.
Since 2005, the city’s racing club has pursued its dream of a new track at Gifford Hill, complete with a function centre and a residential village for horse trainers.
A parade of racing personalities, politicians and investors visited the fledgling racecourse last week to inspect the work that has been done so far and launch the next stage of development: the function centre and a race day building for officials and jockeys.
Almost 120 jobs will be created in the construction phase, and 197 jobs supported after the racecourse opens in 2019.
Burke Urban managing director Kym Burke said he was grateful for the support of the patient, resilient investors behind the development, including the Hurley Group, Wicks and Burke families, Mark Ricciuto and Simon Goodwin.
Together they have already plunged $19 million into the project for the purchase of more than 800 hectares of land, planning, engineering and the construction of the track and race day stalls.
Thoroughbred Racing SA chief executive officer Jim Watters described the development as one of the most exciting things to happen to the state's racing industry.
"It is quite a rarity today to have a completely new racecourse built on a green fields site," he said.
"Importantly, it's a further indicator from the government that it recognises and acknowledges that the racing industry is a major employer and a significant contributor to the state's economy.
"Never once did the racing club believe it wouldn't happen, never did Thoroughbred Racing SA believe it wouldn't happen, and Burke Urban and their venture partners, they always knew it was going to happen."
The development was proof that good things came to those who wait, said federal MP Tony Pasin.
"It has been a long journey – in racing terms, it'd be more than 3200 metres – but we're here," he said.
"This is a facility which will serve our communities for many decades to come."
Katrine Hildyard, South Australia's Assistant Minister for Recreation and Sport, commended the racing club for its unswerving commitment and congratulated all the parties involved.
"When we collaborate, wonderful things do happen, and this is a wonderful example of that," she said.
The new buildings' $20 million cost will be split equally between a federal grant, state loan, Thoroughbred Racing SA loan and the investment group.
The Gold Cup feature race will be run at 5.10pm on Friday, with a $64,000 prize on offer to the winner.