Country racing gone to the dogs
QUEENSLAND Racing has received a multi-million dollar funding injection for racing infrastructure but country racing, it seems, has been left out in the cold.
Non-TAB venues, which make up the bulk of country racing meets, will only see a slither of the new grants allocated and Central Highlands race tracks even less.
The bulk of the funding is directed towards revenue-raising TAB meets in the south-east corner and coastal race tracks.
Just $900,000 has been allocated to assist country racing – roughly $9000 for each club over three years – a far cry from the $15 million being fed to Townsville’s Cluden Park or the refurbishments planned for Callaghan Park in Rockhampton.
Capricornia Racing Association representative with the Queensland Country Racing Committee Leon Roberts said he was yet to take a full appreciation of the entire proposal, but at first glance he considered it to be of little benefit
to non-TAB clubs.
However, he was reserving his final judgment until after a meeting with officials next week.
“We have a Queensland Country Racing Committee meeting scheduled in Brisbane next Wednesday and I would expect we will receive a full briefing at that stage,” Leon said.
“The $900,000 was announced some time ago and as I understand, was to be provided over a three-year term.
“From memory, I think it equated to approximately $3000 per year for three years for each of the 100 non-TAB racing venues in Queensland.”
Roberts said he could see the logic behind Queensland Racing’s funding allocation and like any profitable business, it needed to go where the money was and currently it was not at non-TAB race meets.
The country racing grants, which have been in the pipeline for some time, were intended to assist clubs meet the new minimum safety standards set for the Queensland racing industry.
Graham Rewald from the Country Racing Committee told ABC local radio any funding boost was most welcome but the $9000 just didn’t go far enough.
“It’s not a lot of money when it costs $30,000 to put a running rail on the outside of a track,” he said.
“With a budget of over $200 million for the new infrastructure plan… an extra five million for country race infrastructure would not be excessive I don’t think.”
The Industry Infrastructure Plan issued by Racing Queensland stated it was already well above the country racing funding target set by the State Government, with little to no outlook for a boost to these amounts.
“Funding will continue at the present allocation, which is almost 130 per cent over the legislative requirement,” the report stated.
“In the 2009/10 financial year, Racing Queensland contributed an additional 50 per cent in prizemoney while also providing administrative payments to race clubs and payment of jockey riding fees and subsidisation of insurance.”