RITA grab for Omakau track alleged

Tony Lepper
Tony Lepper
The body overseeing racing has already made a land grab for a Central Otago racetrack, it was alleged yesterday.

The Racing Industry Transition Agency has confirmed the racing calendar for next year and it contains changes from the draft calendar released last month.

Central Otago Racing Club used to have a meeting on January 3, a day after the popular trotting meeting at Omakau.

Under the draft schedule it was set to move to Cromwell on November 27, two days before the Otago Racing Club meeting at Cromwell and that was confirmed yesterday.

Club immediate past president Tony Lepper said there was a mixed response to the new date.

It was good the club had retained a date but it was well away from its Omakau racecourse.

It now had to pay for two courses — upkeep and maintenance at Omakau and then rent and other expenses for the Cromwell track.

A couple of members had already indicated they would not support any move to Cromwell and would resign from the club’s committee.

Lepper said RITA had already sent an email to the club saying the club was not to offload or make any changes to the track at Omakau.

Under legislation, any proceeds from the sale of land owned by a racing club goes to the racing code which, in the case of Central Otago Racing Club, is New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing.

Waikouaiti Racing Club was facing the loss of its New Year’s Day meeting to Riverton.

That move remains but Waikouaiti has the new date of January 16, at Wingatui.

The club had wanted to stay at Waikouaiti as it was seen as a family day and attracted a good crowd of punters from Dunedin.

However, the move to the middle of the month may prove attractive to owners and trainers.

The date is a week from the start of the Wellington Cup carnival, so some horses may use Waikouaiti as preparation.

Waikouaiti Racing Club president Andy Denham could not be contacted yesterday.

Otago Racing Club general manager Rebecca Adlam said the club would welcome the Waikouaiti club and would make a day of it.

It was unfortunate the club would not be able to race at Waikouaiti but a reduction in venues had been signposted by the racing industry.

The Otago club has 12 dates next season, as well as meeting for the Waikouaiti and Beaumont clubs.

Roxburgh Trotting Club had been set to lose its meeting on January 4 to Cromwell on the draft schedule but the meeting will stay at Roxburgh.

Club president David Parker said a good submission which showed strong community support to stay in Roxburgh was compelling.

Worries over broadcasting had also been allayed.

Venues which have not been allocated meeting dates in 2020-21 are Gisborne, Orari, Stratford, Te Awamutu, Te Teko, Waimate, Waipukurau, Wairoa and Wyndham.


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