TAB sale could handicap Lark Hill training facility

Hayley Goddard
Fears the sale of TAB handicap Lark Hill training facility

Lark Hill horse trainers fear the potential sale of the State-owned TAB could lead to the demise of the Government-funded training facility.

WA's three racing codes - thoroughbred, harness and greyhounds - have raised concerns about the future of their industry after the State Government placed the TAB on its list of assets that could be sold to cut WA's debt.

WA Racing and Training Association president Michael Grant said he did not oppose privatisation but feared it could handicap an industry which directly employed more than 33,000 people.

He said the State Government made $70 million in taxes a year from the industry and TAB profits enabled Racing and Wagering WA to distribute $126 million to facilities around WA, including more than $800,000 for the upkeep of Lark Hill.

Having seen the detrimental impact of TAB privatisation in Queensland, South Australia and Tasmania, Mr Grant formed a WA racing representative group with industry chiefs from racing, harness and dog racing.

"Hundreds of horses rely on Lark Hill for training - it is a vital link in the thoroughbred training schedule," Mr Grant said.

"Some trainers use it every day in preparation for meets at the weekend."

The group is hoping the Government will hold off any decisions until a review of the industry is undertaken by Ray Gunston, the Essendon Bombers' interim CEO who guided the club through the supplements scandal, is finalised in October.

Lark Hill trainer Vernon Brockman said he was an avid Liberal supporter but would vote elsewhere if the sale of the TAB went through.

Fellow trainer David Harrison said it would be disappointing to see the amount of money he and others had put into the industry fall by the wayside.

Warnbro MLA Paul Papalia said the proposed sale of the TAB was a betrayal of the WA community, not just racing.

"If the TAB is sold, I can't see how Lark Hill will stay open," he said.

Premier Colin Barnett said the sale of TAB was "unlikely to be looked at in the short-term because of the complexities surrounding it".