Country racing official optimistic of long-term surety
A SECOND Darling Downs racing official has voiced his optimism on Queensland regional and country racing stabilising under a returned Labor state government.
Eastern Downs Country Racing Association chairman Graham Rewald said the industry's state governing body - Racing Queensland - can now deliver country racing racing certainty on the back of Labor pre-election pledges.
Queensland Labor announced pre-election a commitment of $17.5 million per year over the next four years to fully fund the cost of country non-TAB thoroughbred racing throughout the state.
The government's plan to fund country racing is expected to free up Racing Queensland funds which may be used in other industry areas including prize-money pools.
Toowoomba Turf Club chairman Kent Woodford last week said he is "hopeful" Clifford Park's lagging prize money levels can be addressed in the new year.
"Racing Queensland now has the chance to expand over the next four years on plans that have been put in place," Woodford said.
Rewald said while country racing is not in line for imminent prize money increases, Labor's commitment to fund country racing helps guarantee certainty to industry members.
"I'd like to endorse the comments of Kent," Rewald said.
"I'd also like to congratulate Grace Grace for the great job she did as racing minister for country racing."
Grace has been replaced as racing minister in the new cabinet by Stirling Hinchliffe.
"People need to understand we are receiving no extra money for country racing, but what the $17.5 commitment does i deliver us surety.
"I think metropolitan prize-money levels are not too bad, but I think provincial clubs throughout the state could do with a lift in prize money
"I also think the board in place at Racing Queensland is working pretty well.
"That doesn't mean we agree on everything but to my eye there are no politics brought into it and I think that's the way it needs to be.
"We have a good advisory panel chairman in Mark Sowerby to work with. He is very accessible and the our communications are good.
"Everyone is looking forward now to seeing what the new racing minister delivers."