Local racing clubs are still clinging to hope that they will feature in the NSW Government’s $67 million investment into racetrack upgrades.
In last month’s announcement, the NSW Government said they would invest the record amount in 2021-22, with the money to be spent on improvements for grandstands, race-day amenities and racecourse surfaces following consultation with Racing NSW.
Tumut Turf Club, Tumbarumba Turf Club, Gundagai/Adelong Race Club, Holbrook and District Race Club and even the Murrumbidgee Turf Club have either missed out on funding all together, or are yet to receive any news at all.
Tumut Turf Club President David Rosetta said his committee was yet to hear of any news, good or bad, but touched on multiple projects that needed funding.
“Any funding would be appreciated,” Rosetta said.
“It would be going into the track; we would certainly be looking at draining and irrigation. Obviously, this year, it is quite wet, and we would need drainage, but on dry years, it is tough, and our irrigation needs upgrading.”
Rosetta said the club would continue to wait for good news, and while he hoped for something positive, he admitted it might not happen, but that the club was still appreciative for all previous support.
“It’s just a matter of waiting and seeing; we would definitely like to see something,” Rosetta said.
“We have been fortunate with getting a new running rail this year, and whilst it would be great to receive further funding from this package, we have been pleased with the support we have received from Racing NSW.”
Tumbarumba Turf Club were in a similar position, with their committee, including secretary Gordon Kelso, waiting on good news and hoping for much-needed funding.
“As a club that was washed out, we lost a lot of money this year,” Kelso said.
“We are looking to continually upgrade our facility; we would have liked some of the money going around.”
Many of the announcements to date have seen clubs upgrading stables and Kelso said that sort of investment would help his club.
“We have spent a lot of our own money in upgrading and preparing our stalls for race days,” Kelso said.
“We have also applied and missed out on funding for an upgrade of our kitchen, which was worth about $40,000, and it would have made the race club more user friendly for the community as a whole.”
Irrigation is also an issue in Tumbarumba and Kelso said if there was money available, that where it should be going towards.
“We would like a permanent irrigation system, instead of the current system where we have to send our committee members out to move big sprinklers every second day,” Kelso said.
“It is very dry here in December, January and February and if we had an irrigation system, that would help.”
Gundagai-Adelong Race Club were able to confirm they had not received any news on funding as yet, although the committee were remaining hopeful.
Local trainer Andrew Sheahan believed now was the perfect time to invest, as he believed Gundagai/Adelong Race Club could become a new training hub, based on its prime location on the Hume Highway and good racing surface.
“My thing is at Gundagai, it’s a great track and I reckon it is the perfect location, and if you were to build stables, you couldn’t keep trainers away,” Sheahan said.
Racing NSW Country Executive Officer Brian Charman believed the $67 million would prove to be a huge boost to regional racing, and he praised the NSW Government for their foresight and investment into the sport.
“The New South Wales Government understands the considerable social and economic benefits provided by the thoroughbred racing industry, particularly in regional and rural NSW, hence they seem comfortable in providing further funding and investment in the racing industry, in part related to economic recovery from Covid-19,” Charman said.
Charman touched on the investments to date, but he reiterated that future announcements would be made by the NSW Government, and he could not confirm if any of the abovementioned tracks would see any of the $67 million on offer.
“There has been a number of announcements including a $20m investment at Scone Race Club, $4 million investment at Muswellbrook for a multipurpose racing and community function facility and $3 million at Albury towards racing and training facility upgrades and stabling at Albury, while other announcements include $500,000 investment in drought proofing and irrigation upgrades at Queanbeyan and stabling infrastructure investment of $700,000 at Moruya,” Charman said.
“There was also $300,000 for an upgrade of the grandstand at Cootamundra. We are looking forward to further announcements of country racing projects over the coming days and it is reasonable that the NSW Government who is funding these upgrades has control over the announcement of the upgrades.”