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