Waikouaiti club focused on future

Waikouaiti Racing Club. Photo: ODT files
Waikouaiti Racing Club. Photo: ODT files
Waikouaiti Racing Club is fighting back.

Its long-term future is murky. It is one of the 23 tracks New Zealand Thoroughbred Racing is looking at closing down.

But club president Andy Denham reckons its odds of survival are improving. And he wants the public to know the club is still open for business.

Its annual race meeting on January 1 will go ahead and the club "continues to be focused on holding race meetings on New Year’s Day for many years to come".

"Contrary to what you may have read or heard regarding the state of thoroughbred racing in New Zealand, the Waikouaiti Racing Club is determined to have a future," he said in a press release.

When contacted, Denham said as long as the club was not costing NZTR any money and the club was continuing to run a good event, then why shut the course down.

NZTR released a venue plan earlier this year which proposed axing the course as well as many others.

"We’ve been told we’ve got about four years of racing ahead of us. But the second part of the venue plan will come out probably before the end of the year and we are in talks with NZTR ... just to put our case forward.

"I think it is looking not too bad ... so long as we have some good race days with good attendance and good horse entries."

The club has a long history. The course was established in early 1875 and by 1930 the club was in a sound enough financial position to construct a grandstand which is still in use.

Other amenities have been added, and since the 1970s race days have included other entertainment to create a carnival-type atmosphere.

The meeting attracted 3500 people this year and Denham is hopeful a similar number will be there come January 1.

In 2018, racing was called off after one race when a horse slipped on the track which was deemed unsafe for racing to continue.

That was a blow but the club is in a good financial position and Denham believes the New Year’s racing at Waikouaiti is sustainable.

"We think it is worth hanging on to. As I say, we get a lot of support from the community.

"And I guarantee there will be young people there on the day who will think, ‘Gee, this racing game looks fun, we’d quite like to be part of it’. They might choose a career in racing."

"As long as we are not costing the industry any money then what is the problem?"


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