Meetings wiped from the South

Nearly 50 meetings in the Dunedin region have been canned, and all racing will disappear from Forbury Park.

The Racing Industry Transition Agency (RITA) released its draft calendar for next season yesterday, and as expected, no races will be run at Forbury Park.

Along with the 20 harness race meetings gone from Forbury Park, another 27 greyhound meetings have been pulled from the complex.

The Waikouaiti Racing Club has lost its only race day on New Year’s Day. It has been transferred to Riverton, while the Roxburgh Trotting Club’s race day in early January has been moved to Cromwell.

The Central Otago Racing Club’s meeting on January 3 at Omakau has been canned. It has been given a date in November but may not take it up.

The calendar is a draft and has not been set in stone. Submissions on it can be made until the middle of next month. Consultation would then take a couple of weeks, and the final calendar would be released on July 3.

Nationwide there are 43 fewer meetings than last season and 14 venues have disappeared.

Having 60 racing venues nationwide was not sustainable for the future.

Otago Greyhound Racing Club general manager John Carlyle said it was not a surprise to lose all the meetings and he felt the club had been paid lip service by officials.

"The first communication we got was only a day ago and we got no real reason, no why, how or whatever. It was pretty disappointing," he said.

The club employed 10 casual staff on race days and had two part-time staff. It had spent $500,000 on plant and buildings over the past seven years to get the facility up to scratch and it was the safest greyhound track in the country.

"The trainers liked coming here and racing. Not every dog is going to like a track. We gave them another option."

Carlyle said the club would be putting in a submission.

Invercargill is set to hold 33 greyhound mini meetings of three races and five meetings of 12 races though they were not included in yesterday’s draft, he said.

Forbury Park Trotting Club had commented on Thursday and slammed the decision, saying it was a knee-jerk reaction and just continued the ad hoc decision-making of past years.

Central Otago Racing Club president Tony Lepper said the club was pleased to get a date in November that it was after, but was disappointed it was at Cromwell. The club was run by people from Omakau and he wondered whether they would be willing to travel to Cromwell and if the club could afford to have facilities in Omakau and then pay costs for a meeting in Cromwell. It was two days before the popular Cromwell races.

The Tuapeka meeting, which has been held at Forbury Park, had been moved to Oamaru, to take place in late October.

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