Query over scheduled Forbury Park dates

The future for Forbury Park is uncertain. PHOTO: STEPHEN JAQUIERY
The last race meeting at Forbury Park will be well signposted but there is no guarantee all the remaining race dates will actually take place at the venue.

The track is due to close at the end of the season and there are six meetings scheduled at the venue, the last on July 8.

Forbury Park Trotting Club chairman Craig Paddon said a board meeting next week would make a decision on the fate of the remaining meetings.

The race meeting set for next Wednesday — starting mid-afternoon — would definitely go ahead but he could not confirm the other meetings would proceed.

Meetings are also scheduled for May 27, June 10, June 24, July 1 and July 8.

Paddon said the club had to weigh up all the implications of the closure of the track. It was not a case of just closing the door after the final meeting on July 8 and walking out.

The venue had to be decommissioned and the club would be in a holding process as the winding up of the track might take some time.

During that time, the club would still face costs and it had to be aware of how it would fund those costs, he said.

There were fixed costs the club would have to pay regardless of whether the venue was still operating.

It might simply not be able to operate all six meetings as it had to look long term.

Paddon said the closure and sale of the track and venue were all under new racing legislation.

The club was the first in New Zealand to go through the process so it was unclear how long and difficult that was, but clearly it would not happen overnight.

The club received 10 dates for this season after being allocated none in a draft calendar.

Paddon said going into the season the club knew having only 10 dates was not financially sustainable and would be a struggle.

It had previously had double that number of meetings.

Holding a meeting was an income stream for the club but also increased costs.

The last meeting — on whatever date — would be a big occasion for the track and club as racing of some kind had been at the venue since 1870, harness racing since 1909.

Paddon said people from the North Island had been in contact about attending the final meeting and the club realised how important the final meeting at the track was to many people.

The club was in dialogue with the Dunedin City Council and central government about the future of the track and those talks were continuing.

Paddon confirmed the club wanted to continue racing and would like to race on grass at Wingatui.

It wanted to race close to home to encourage sponsors and receive support from members.

But it would also have to work in with the Otago Racing Club which has its own dates to sort.

A greenfield site for a racing track had been the ideal scenario for the club and Paddon had earlier said a site had been identified.

But it is unlikely to get support from code bosses and a report into racing in the Otago-Southland region had recommended a new harness track should not be built in the Dunedin area.

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