After giving it their best, clubs must wait

Forbury Park. Photo: ODT files
Forbury Park. Photo: ODT files
Clubs are not giving up without a fight as D-day looms for many in the South.

Submissions closed yesterday for input on the draft racing calendar for next year.

Waikouaiti Racing Club is sending in its third submission fighting for its existence, while the Central Otago Racing Club is still at a loss over why its only meeting is to be moved an hour up the road.

Meanwhile, the future of Forbury Park remains up in the air as its members fight to keep trotting in the city.

The Racing Industry Transition Agency (RITA) released the calendar last month and it cut a swath through the industry. It called for submissions, which had to be in by yesterday.

Nearly half the venues for trotting were wiped off the calendar: Forbury Park got no meetings, while Roxburgh and Gore both lost their venues.

The Waikouaiti Racing Club has lost its New Year’s Day date to Riverton and Central Otago’s meeting at Omakau has been moved to Cromwell.

Waikouaiti Racing Club president Andy Denham said the club’s submission outlined why the meeting should stay at Waikouaiti.

It attracted good crowds, it was a way to introduce racing to young people, it had been awarded top meeting in the summer racing series a couple of years ago, and top trainers such as Michael Pitman and John Parsons had been based there over the years.

The club had to argue its existence, and present submissions, over the past few months after the Messara report and the Racing Industry Bill, so it felt it was under attack.

Central Otago Racing Club president Tony Lepper said the club was against moving its January 3 race day to Cromwell from its Omakau track. He said the club felt Cromwell might be impacted by Covid-19 and the havoc it was causing in the Queenstown and Wanaka areas.

The club members and sponsors all came from around Omakau and Alexandra, and it was trying to set up a contractors day for people from the area, so it made no sense to go to Cromwell.

Forbury Park faces being wiped off the map, as no dates next season have been allocated to the track.

The club had been holding the bulk of its racing in winter, more than half its meetings taking place on Thursday nights.

Club chief executive Della Henderson confirmed the club had sent in a submission and had a meeting of more than 50 members last week. She declined to outline what was in the submission but said a lot of people would be impacted by the loss of racing from Forbury Park.

RITA will study submissions before confirming the calendar on July 3.


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