Racecourse proposal is disappointing
A recommendation Stratford racecourse be sold is “disappointing,” say both the president and vice president of Stratford Racing Club.
“It’s definitely sad for Stratford, not just for the trainers, track work riders and groundstaff who use the course, but for the community as a whole, who all benefit from having the facility here,‘says the club’s vice president, Vaughan Keegan.
Stratford was one of 20 racetracks recommended for culling in a report by Australian racing administrator and breeder, John Messara.
The report, released last week, also identified Ha¯ wera as a track to be sold, while the New Plymouth, Waverley and Whanganui clubs are not on the list.
Stratford Racing Club president John Gray says he is not only concerned about racing in Stratford but Taranaki in general.
“The proposed changes have both Stratford and Ha¯ wera racecourses being sold, both freehold properties and it’s suggested both clubs trainers and horses move to the leased facility at New Plymouth. I can’t understand the logic of putting money into a track that is leased and, as I understand, one that doesn’t have a lease in place with the council yet, what happens if in five years time the after all the money is sunk into that course that there is a change of council and along with it attitude towards racing in New Plymouth, where does racing go from there?”
Vaughan says while the recommendation was not necessarily a surprise, he feels it will be a great loss for Stratford should the the recommendation be acted on.
“Stratford has consistently attracted large crowds to the racedays, however this decision isn’t about financials or numbers it is about centralisation.”
The loss to the Stratford community isn’t just about horse racing.
“The worst part is the recommendation the land and buildings be sold. That would cost a lot of people their livelihoods here.”
Vaughan says there are up to 12 horse trainers who use the track, and the sale of the track would cause problems for them.
“Lots of the trainers bring the horses here to use the gallops for example. So even if the trainer doesn’t work from the track, they use the track regularly as part of the training schedule.” Most trainers aren’t one man bands either, says Vaughan.
“So the closure won’t just impact the trainers themselves, but also their staff. it will have a knock-on effect to other people as well such as farriers, feed merchants, vets, transport companies, all sorts of people who will be impacted including horse owners who will face additional costs.”
As well as hosting gallop race days for horse racing, Vaughan says there is an annual harness racing event at the track.
“Not to mention the community groups and schools who use the track at times. Lots of schools hold their cross country events at the track, so they will lose the use as well. It’s a big blow to the community for this to be lost.”