LNP loss a hit for racing industry

Racing industry unimpressed by Labor win

Sport
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Queensland's racing industry will lose out again under a Labor government, Terry Butts reports.

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THE Election result will go down as the one that Tim Nichols lost. Not necessarily the Liberal National Party.

And in the view of many - the other loser was racing, still one of the largest employers in the state.

Few outside the inner sanctum of the Labor party would argue that Grace Grace is the most ineffective racing minster of all time.

The record of Racing Queensland during the reign of Grace is, pardon the pun, a total dis-grace. So we must now brace ourselves for another term of incompetent governance of racing.

With (at time of writing) the likelihood of another union-dominated labor government there is little hope of QRIC being dismantled - as promised by the LNP.

QRIC’s claim to fame is the amount of industry funds it has so far gobbled - and still wasting - at an alarming rate. It is a monster employing monsters. Just ask the licensees who daily try to make sense of the dual operation-RQ and QRIC that operate independently and seriously - should be under the one roof and one boss.

“Ring Racing Queensland” is a standard response to many seeking information or with a valid query about licenses etc.

Some would argue the biggest loser in the Queensland election is the racing industry.

Some would argue the biggest loser in the Queensland election is the racing industry.

“Ring QRIC” is the reply from Racing Queensland. Just ask the licensees. Yes, just ask the licensees who are forced to deal with them. I am told many owners and trainers dodge the Queensland administrators for such menial tasks as changing ownership of horses.

Expect up to six weeks delay in Queensland - yet it’s virtually an immediate transaction in other states.

Yes, QRIC and the three tier boards of control are whales in a swimming pool and apart from the capture of a couple of trotting criminals (with the help of Queensland Police) our integrity body has absolutely nothing to gloat about. Certainly no cause for complacency.

Racing will remain in the doldrums under the current regime that has already lost the confidence of those who count. The punters and a large majority of licensees in the state.

YET THE BOOM continues in Victoria where, in direct contrast to Queensland wagering turnover grew by 8.4 per cent last year to a record $6.24 billion.

Thursday night timeslot saw turnover up 25.8 per cent and a rise in average field size from 9.1 to 9.5 starters per race. The four standalone Saturday meetings in country Victoria saw attendances up 18.1pc and turnover up 9.4pc.

State-wide attendances remained consistent at a nation-high 1.34 million with country racing delivering 1.5pc growth. The Warrnambool May Racing Carnival attracted an attendance of more than 30,000.

The number of owners participating in Victorian racing topped 68,000.The average prizemoney and bonuses was $369,902 and 8,668 individual horses competed across 4187 TAB races.

Racing Victoria's new chairman Brian Kruger said: "This is a strong result.

“Prizemoney, participation and returns to clubs all increasing for the betterment of all stakeholders.

"Our country clubs are the best funded nationally [and] we have a Future Fund that has increased to $61 million, which will provide an opportunity for the industry to make long-term strategic investments," said Kruger.

He said integrity of the sport remains a primary focus with a total of 14,140 equine samples collected over the 2016-17 season, with only nine returning positive swabs to prohibited substances.

COUNTRY RACING down south paints a far brighter picture than Queensland where the clubs in SE corner and country clubs scramble for the crumbs of a diminishing cake. They live on hope.

And, closer to home, the Chairman’s report to be handed down at the Townsville Turf Club’s AGM next month is hardly a confidence booster for the future.

The Townsville club reports a loss last year of more than $600,000 and Chairman Mal Pertrofski indicates the much lauded new $6m track might be a millstone around the club’s neck.

He states: “The new track gives Townsville a superior racing surface - however does not deliver extra income - and in fact adds an extra cost of $200,000 a year in costs and maintenance.”

“The club (previous committee) should not have proceeded with the track development without the income to cover its maintenance,” he declared. It is a view that might spark some discontent in local racing circles as there is still some argy bargy over the dramatic change of committee in 2016.

In fact the previous committee reigned en masse after refusing a demand by Racing Queensland they should accept a $400,000 grant conditional that they employ a RQ nominated auditor to work for three months at a cost (to the TTC) of $200,000. They refused (not surprisingly) and resigned.

RQ then called for a new committee (some say was already on standby) and immediately dropped the demand for an excessively expensive an auditor.

Funny that.

Meanwhile the previous committee claim RQ still owes the TTC $250,000 from the track development that was paid out of TTC funds for which they claim RQ was and is responsible. Talk about a dog’s breakfast!

Meanwhile a glimpse of the financials clearly shows Townsville relies heavily on funding by Racing Queensland without which it simply could not function.

The club’s auditor said the TTC was reviewing all operations and working on a turnaround strategy to ensure the club trades to the end of 2018 financial year.

“There is no indication to believe Racing Queensland would not continue providing support to the club in the future,” he said. 

That of course might depend on who is in the chair at Deagon or in George Street - but given current political connections or affiliations Cluden looks fairly safe....for the present at least.

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