EX­CLU­SIVE $17m boost for turf club

Up­grades to fa­cil­i­ties will al­low Bun­bury track to run all year round

South Western Times - - Front Page - Steve But­ler and Mitchell Wood­cock

The Bun­bury Turf Club will be trans­formed into a year-round rac­ing fa­cil­ity after a $17 mil­lion up­grade by Rac­ing and Wa­ger­ing WA.

RWWA has ear­marked $28 mil­lion to­wards a num­ber of up­grades to tracks in the State, with Bun­bury to be the main ben­e­fi­ciary.

A com­plete re­struc­ture of the main track, in­clud­ing an en­gi­neered drainage sys­tem, will pro­vide a year-round rac­ing ser­vice. A new train­ing and trial track will also be built along with a race day and train­ing stalls com­plex.

RWWA chief ex­ec­u­tive Richard Burt said the changes would guar­an­tee the fu­ture of WA rac­ing for at least the next 20 years.

“It’s want­ing to pro­vide the thor­ough­bred in­dus­try with a di­rec­tion on in­fra­struc­ture so that un­cer­tainty that may have ex­isted pre­vi­ously is re­moved,” Mr Burt said. “We’ve been want­ing to ac­cess Roy­al­ties For Re­gions fund­ing for Bun­bury. We haven’t been able to con­trol Bel­mont or ac­cess funds in­de­pen­dent of RWWA for Bun­bury.

“But we’re not go­ing to sit back any more. We’re de-risk­ing the model … it makes sense and it’s long over­due.”

Bun­bury Turf Club chief ex­ec­u­tive of­fi­cer Alex Doble said the up­grade was a long time com­ing.

“This en­deav­our has been on the draw­ing board for close to a decade,” he said. “We are in a po­si­tion now to get the pro­ject un­der way in the next 12 months.”

“That per­ceived dis­ad­van­tage of be­ing a Bun­bury trainer will be di­min­ished.

“Bun­bury train­ers will have a race meet­ing in their back­yard ev­ery two weeks.”

Mr Doble said the club would have the po­ten­tial for 35 races a year, but for the medium to short­term fu­ture the club would stick to 21, but over 12 months rather than six.

For the past two years, Mr Doble said he had been work­ing to­wards get­ting the South West’s big­gest race, the Bun­bury Cup, to fea­ture as a stand-alone Satur­day meet in March.

“What we are look­ing at is after the re­de­vel­op­ment there could be a stand-alone Satur­day meet for the Bun­bury Cup in 2021,” he said.

The work is set to be­gin in March 2020, but to al­low it to be com­pleted the club will be closed for an en­tire rac­ing sea­son and train­ers will not have ac­cess to the fa­cil­i­ties for six months.

Mr Doble said the club was work­ing closely with RWWA “around strate­gies to min­imise the im­pact on lo­cal in­dus­try stake­hold­ers”.

“There will be an in­ter­rup­tion, but we are hop­ing to find some man­age­ment so­lu­tions to help,” he said.

The rest of the $28 mil­lion in­vest­ment will go to­wards up­grad­ing Pin­jarra’s course and widen­ing the As­cot home turn and straight.

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