Push for on-course stables

Jay Rooney and Justin FrisSouth Western Times
Plans are being considered to expand and upgrade the Bunbury Turf Club's facility, along with the feasibility study of a new greyhound track in Bunbury.
Camera IconPlans are being considered to expand and upgrade the Bunbury Turf Club's facility, along with the feasibility study of a new greyhound track in Bunbury. Credit: Mitchell Woodcock

Racing and Wagering WA has engaged an independent consultant to scrutinise the future of thoroughbred racing and training assets in Perth and Bunbury and the potential locations for on-course stabling.

GHD will research and provide recommendations for future asset planning in WA thoroughbred racing, with a draft report expected at the next Thoroughbred Racing Committee meeting on October 16.

The Belmont Park racecourse redevelopment, potential for a new track and facilities at Bunbury and a new greyhound track at Bunbury will also be analysed.

“GHD will have four pieces of work,” RWWA manager of commercial racing and planning David Hunter said.

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“They’ll be looking at the greyhound asset footprint in WA and what opportunities there are to potentially introduce greyhound racing to the South West.

“We’ve asked them to work with the City of Bunbury on the local area plan they have for their equine precinct.

“There may be opportunities for on-course stabling at both equine facilities down there and perhaps some development of surplus land, which could open doors for the clubs to diversify their income streams.

“While we’ve asked them to look at Bunbury, we’ve also asked them to look at other venues across the State where on-course stabling would be best located.

“That would break down barriers to entry for horse trainers and young people coming into the industry.”

Bunbury Turf Club chief executive and racing manager Alex Doble believed any facility upgrades could be beneficial to racing in the region.

“We’re obviously open to that conversation with RWWA,” he said. “We are in a fortunate position here at the Bunbury Turf Club as we own the land freehold.

“So we have some flexibility with any type of development. The on-course stabling might entail the Bunbury Turf Club gifting land to the governing body and then the governing body themselves making the capital investment to put the stabling in.

“We are in a strong position where we’ve got real flexibility over our future and future land uses.”

In addition, Doble outlined the club’s desire to ensure racing becomes a year-long fixture in the South West.

“Our project in isolation allows us essentially to turn the Bunbury Turf Club racing infrastructure into a 12 month of the year venue,” he said.

“At the moment, our race season covers six months and we essentially can’t race over the wetter months because the track itself has no drainage and we are very close to the water table.

“We are essentially under water in winter.

“Our plans that we have in place essentially ensure we will put in the appropriate drainage to get that water away and from a racing perspective, become a 12 month of the year venue.”

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