THE Latrobe Valley Racing Club will be reduced to two race meetings per season from 2016 under the recently released Victorian Country Racecourse and Training Facilities Infrastructure Plan.
Glenview Park will receive three race meetings for 2015/16, but has been allocated only two for 2016/17 and 2017/18 by the three-year plan developed by Racing Victoria and Country Racing Victoria.
LVRC chair Peter Walkley said the initial draft shown to the club outlined three meetings per season, which was altered in the final document without further consultation during the three-month feedback period.
He said the Traralgon-based club would fight to have its third race day reinstalled and lamented the diminished allocation.
“Very disappointed, we’ve run very successful meetings,” Walkley said.
“(I think they’re looking at) turnover clubs, rather than the racing industry as a whole and the importance of community racing.”
The reduced offering follows a horror season for the community club, which saw two meetings transferred, the Traralgon Cup cancelled and its Ladies Day card cut in half due to weather.
Walkley said while the financial burden of a poor season was significant, the club would continue to operate as normal and was scheduled to undergo significant track maintenance next month, with top dressing, resowing and levelling set to take place.
“It hit us financially, (but) we had a very good year the year before,” Walkley said.
The changes to LVRC’s calendar come despite the report espousing the importance of country racing.
“It is considered a reduction in small racetracks across the state would impact racing’s marketability and provide limited economic benefit to the industry, given the small amount of funding required to operate these venues,” the report states.
“RV and CRV recognises the importance of country racing and is committed to developing practices to ensure future growth.”
Racing Victoria executive general manager, infrastructure and club support Jamie McGuinness said there were several reasons behind the reduction for LVRC, including static horse population, industry race day operating costs and a push to explore more country night racing at other venues.
“As a result, some country clubs are proposed to run slightly less meetings across the next three years and it has been proposed to relocate the Latrobe Valley Racing Club’s smallest race day,” McGuinness said.
However, he said there may be scope for alterations to the final plan.
“The plan is a proposal from RV and CRV that is subject to change based on numerous operating factors including track upgrades, lighting upgrades, track performance, club performance, industry revenue levels, horse population, occupational health and safety and other industry expenditure requirements,” McGuinness said.
“The industry is always prepared to consider change should wagering and attendance levels change significantly.
“RV and CRV will continue to support LVRC to ensure it can maintain and grow its two successful race meetings for the benefit of the club, the wider thoroughbred racing industry and the local community.”
Member for Eastern Victoria Region Danny O’Brien called on Racing Minister Martin Pakula to stop the downgrades, along with cuts to other Gippsland racing clubs including Stony Creek and Bairnsdale.
“I am very concerned that this plan sees the continued contraction of support away from small country racing venues into larger regional centres and Melbourne,” O’Brien said.
“It is just a further example of country facilities and events being eroded incrementally and I think it needs to stop.”
Member for Morwell Russell Northe and Shadow Minister for Racing Tim Bull also joined to chorus to support Traralgon and other country clubs affected.
The Latrobe Valley’s other stakeholder in the report, Moe Racing Club, was allocated 14 meetings for each of the next three seasons.
The allocation of specific race dates for the 2015/16 racing season, which begins on 1 August, will be completed next month.
The report in full can be viewed at rv.racing.com