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Trainers stalled in tracks
Trainers stalled in tracks

South West thoroughbred powerbrokers are calling for an urgent revamp at the Bunbury Turf Club as increasing numbers of trainers squeeze into the outdated facilities.

Space in the club’s 120 crumbling stalls during track work is at a premium with some trainers forced to wait up to an hour for a spot on busy mornings.

Bunbury Turf Club chairman Craig Chadwick said the existing facilities were “past their used by date” while leading trainer Ross Price described the situation as being at “breaking point”.

The problem is compounded on popular Tuesday and Saturday morning timeslots where up to 200 horses can be taken for a gallop.

The problems were highlighted as part of a meeting between South West trainers and officials from the sport’s governing body Racing and Wagering Western Australia in Bunbury last week.

At the meeting RWWA revealed it would push the State Government to decrease its direct wagering taxes by one per cent — a move which could leave the industry $13 million better off each year, according to estimates.

The State Government take more than 11 per cent of wagering revenue in tax annually.

RWWA claimed the extra money could be tipped into much-needed upgrades at clubs like Bunbury.

Chadwick said the club would need State Government support to fund any improvements.

He said building 200 new stalls would cost about $1.5 million.

“In all honesty, they’ve got past the stage of being repaired. They need to be knocked down and rebuilt,” he said.

“Ultimately, the livelihood of our trainers is having access to adequate training facilities to train their horses.

“It is frustrating. The racing industry contributes taxes to the State, but there is no funding available for infrastructure.”

Price, a veteran committee member at the club, said the number of stalls was inadequate.

“We need well over 160 or 170 stalls to take the numbers at a 10-race meeting or horses that turn up to track work in the morning,” he said.

The club’s chances of receiving Government support were boosted earlier this week, when Racing and Gaming Minister Terry Waldron announced a $6.6 million Royalties for Regions cash splash on racecourse infrastructure funding.

The money will be added to the existing Racing Infrastructure Grants Program over the next there years.

Waldron said the money would allow racing clubs around the State to begin projects.