Country racing fears impact of overhaul

Warwick Turf Club president Phil Grant. There is growing concern over Racing Queensland’s sustainability plan and its effect on country racing clubs like Warwick.
Warwick Turf Club president Phil Grant. There is growing concern over Racing Queensland’s sustainability plan and its effect on country racing clubs like Warwick. Erin Smith

THE future roles of Warwick and Dalby in Racing Queensland's (RQ) proposed industry plan remains unclear as country racing officials seek answers on the future of bush clubs in the south-east region of the state.

RQ last Thursday released its much-anticipated Tracking Towards Sustainability (TTS) Plan designed to rein in what it says are unsustainable financial losses in the Queensland racing industry.

The complex 96-page document outlines severe prizemoney cutbacks across the three codes of racing and a reduction in Queensland country thoroughbred meeting numbers.

Country prize money is to be cut from $7000 to $5500 per race, but a state government compensation package is expected to delay their introduction by two years.

But more concerning to country racing participants is a proposed 50-less non-TAB meetings to be run across the state each season.

Tracks annually hosting between four and seven programs are to be reduced to three meetings each.

The recently introduced Country Queensland Showcase Series (TAB covered), Celebrate Country Series and Sustain Country Series all face the axe.

Eastern Downs Racing Association (EDRA) chairman Graham Rewald said the plan would potentially "devastate" Queensland country racing.

"If the plan goes ahead as it has been presented it will really wreck country racing," Rewald said yesterday while seeking further details on the TTS.

"As I understand it, country prizemoney cutbacks will be delayed for two years through a government compensation package.

"We are appreciative of the government stepping up to offer us some protection, but the loss of meetings will be devastating to our industry."

The EDRA region covers about 20 clubs from Texas to Taroom and takes in TAB venues at Goondiwindi, Warwick and Dalby.

Those clubs appear to be facing significant cutbacks, but Rewald said plans for their future have yet to be spelt out.

"We haven't been told the fine details yet, but while clubs that race once a year are safe it's the middle order clubs like Warwick and Dalby that could be facing the biggest changes," he said.

"We don't want to lose any meetings. These changes could mean there will be no meetings in the region for weeks at a time."

The EDRA has not been a part of any RQ industry consultations, but will have a delegate to air its views at a December 23 RQ meeting.

Topics:  racing queensland

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