Sled dog racing hopes for Harcourt

Jon Marcollo with Siberian husky Zah compete in a sled dog race. Photos: Najodia Photo Graphics

Jon Marcollo with Siberian husky Zah compete in a sled dog race. Photos: Najodia Photo Graphics

Sun-strafed Harcourt may not be what usually springs to mind should someone mention sled dog racing - but that's exactly what's in mind for Bendigo's Jon Marcollo and fellow members of the Siberian Husky Club of Victoria.

Mr Marcollo is trail boss and a longtime member of the club that has multiple events around the state with winter the prime time for sled dog racing.

Right now the club is looking to bring husky racing to Oak Forest at Harcourt - a venue that Mr Marcollo says could be ideal, creating an exciting new tourism attraction for the area and an exhilarating activity for dogs and their owners, with breeds other than huskies also able to participate.

With a view to hopefully getting sled dog racing at Harcourt off the ground next year, the club will be holding a special husky display walk and expo at Harcourt Applefest on Saturday, March 10.

And for those interested in getting involved, a sledding workshop is also set for April 28 at the Henry of Harcourt cidery.

"The workshop is aimed at teaching people how to work with their dogs safely," says Jon who has three much-loved huskies of his own.

"Huskies are free-spirited, but they've been bred over many many years to pull sleds so it's in their blood and they love doing it.

"When they work in harness they listen intently and they just want to run."

Races - which can be specifically for huskies or for open breeds - are held across different categories ranging from races for single dogs to teams of up to eight, and take place at locations ranging from the snowfields of Baw Baw, Falls Creek, Buller and Hotham - to Australia's biggest sled dog racing event held at Shepparton over the Queen's Birthday long weekend.

"Every state except the Northern Territory do sled dog racing and if we can get a really good track sorted in the Oak Forest area at Harcourt there's no reason why it couldn't be as big or bigger," Jon says.

More information is available from Jon Marcollo at 0407 806 638.