MOONEE Valley and harness racing are parting company. The sport's long-time Victorian headquarters will host its last harness racing meeting on February 27.
With Harness Racing Victoria investing $45 million in a new home, Melton's Tabcorp Park, the scaling down of Moonee Valley was inevitable, but a complete split so soon is a surprise.
Friday night's meeting will be one of just nine more at Moonee Valley.
The Valley hosted its first harness meeting on October 30, 1976 and gradually took over as Melbourne's home of harness from the Royal Melbourne Showgrounds.
The Showgrounds era ended on October 20, 1980.
"We were phasing out of Moonee Valley with a plan for just 11 meetings there next season (2009-10), but the fantastic feedback we've had to Tabcorp Park has fast-tracked things for us," HRV chief executive John Anderson said.
"It's far more financially beneficial for us to race at Tabcorp Park. We have been in talks with the Moonee Valley Racing Club and have now reached a formal agreement to part company."
MVRC chief executive Michael Browell described the split as "a win-win".
"We are very happy with the terms of the agreement," Browell said.
"From a non-race day perspective, we have been inundated with requests to use Moonee Valley as a function venue in November/December, mostly on Saturday nights, which will now be available for that use."
Browell said the removal of Moonee Valley's harness track allowed for a revamp of the thoroughbred track.
"It certainly gives us more options, by way of possibly widening the track, if there isn't a harness track there," he said.
Anderson said talks had initially centred on the $1 million Hunter Cup night on February 6 as the farewell meeting.
"We decided that was a big enough event in itself with the Hunter Cup, Inter Dominion trotting final and the Victoria Derby, so we wanted to mark the end of such a big era in harness racing with a farewell meeting of its own," he said.
The original agreement between HRV and the Valley was signed in 1984 and was due to expire in 2024.
Tabcorp Park will host its first official meeting on Sunday week.
Major races such as the Breeders Crown in August and Victoria Cup in December have already been switched from the Valley to Tabcorp Park.