EXCLUSIVE $17m boost for turf club
Upgrades to facilities will allow Bunbury track to run all year round
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.