WA rac­ing right to join a turf war to keep the sport strong

The West Australian - - OPINION -

The sport of kings has be­come the lat­est bat­tle­ground in the war of pres­tige and in­flu­ence be­tween the States — and we’re de­lighted that WA is right up for the fight. Only a day af­ter Rac­ing and Wager­ing WA un­veiled a record $168.4 mil­lion dis­tri­bu­tion to the State’s three rac­ing codes, The West Aus­tralian re­ports today that RWWA is pre­par­ing to join horse rac­ing’s bit­ter in­ter­state prize­money turf war to lure the best gal­lop­ers to com­pete in Perth.

It is un­der­stood that RWWA di­rec­tors will soon con­sider sig­nif­i­cant im­prove­ments to Perth Rac­ing’s an­nual TAB­touch Masters se­ries at As­cot in Novem­ber.

The se­ries is the world’s only car­ni­val that of­fers a $1 mil­lion race at a sin­gle track over three con­sec­u­tive Satur­days.

The cost is yet to be un­veiled, but the re­al­ity is that WA can­not af­ford not to act.

Rac­ing NSW last week landed a blow to WA rac­ing by an­nounc­ing the new $1 mil­lion “The Gong” at Kem­bla Grange would be held on the same date, for the same prize money and over the same 1600m dis­tance as Perth Rac­ing’s pres­ti­gious Rail­way Stakes on Novem­ber 23. The move is likely to en­tice many Eastern States-based train­ers and own­ers to stay on the east coast rather than bring their gal­lop­ers to WA.

That move is part of a big­ger tus­sle be­tween Syd­ney and Mel­bourne rac­ing author­i­ties that is be­com­ing in­creas­ingly heated — and per­sonal.

The Vic­to­ria Rac­ing Club yes­ter­day an­nounced that its Mel­bourne Cup prize­money would be bumped up to a record $8 mil­lion in re­sponse to a raft of big-money events re­cently an­nounced by Rac­ing NSW, in­clud­ing the an­nual $13 mil­lion Ever­est, the world’s richest turf race. In un­veil­ing the move, VRC chair­woman Amanda El­liott de­liv­ered an ex­tra­or­di­nary ver­bal spray against her NSW col­league Peter V’landys.

“I think it’s just a silly lit­tle man mak­ing silly de­ci­sions,” she said.

RWWA chief ex­ec­u­tive Richard Burt has boldly de­clared: “Other States, as rac­ing author­i­ties, are com­pet­ing with each other and we’re up for the com­pe­ti­tion.”

The State’s rac­ing in­dus­try has an im­por­tant part to play in WA’s tourism and hos­pi­tal­ity in­dus­tries and the at­trac­tive­ness of Perth as a vi­brant, cosmopolit­an city.

The in­vest­ment in Op­tus Sta­dium is al­ready pay­ing div­i­dends by boost­ing vis­i­tor num­bers to Perth and the feast of na­tional and in­ter­na­tional block­busters sched­uled over the next few months — which are never handed to WA on a plate — will only en­hance those re­sults.

Rac­ing can­not al­low the com­pet­i­tive­ness of its sport to be eroded. It has the fi­nan­cial mus­cle. It is right to join the fray.

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