After a pretty tough first day of the Championships, we return to Randwick for an absolute belter of a card for day this Saturday, featuring a ripping Queen Elizabeth and very open Sydney Cup.
Peter V’landys might have saved rugby league last year but it’s time for him to start focusing on the job he’s paid most to do and run Racing NSW.
The best racing state in Australia has some serious problems and they centre around the quality of tracks, especially in regional areas.
Setting aside the devastating floods in the last week, NSW has a track problem.
To put it simply, when it rains, there are big problems.
By my count, more than 30 meetings in NSW have been impacted by tracks in the last six months. At least 25 have been transferred or abandoned meetings, while Newcastle has made half a dozen changes between its inner and outer track that were not programmed.
Please note that I haven’t included the last week in these figures, as the floods would have put paid to a race meeting on the best-draining tracks.
It’s time for Racing NSW to set aside a bigger budget for race track upgrades in key regional areas.
Outside of Sydney, the locations that need to have tracks capable of handling a decent downpour are Albury, Wagga Wagga, Goulburn, Gosford, Newcastle, Kembla Grange, Scone, Tamworth, Port Macquarie and Coffs Harbour.
These racing hubs service a large number of participants and it is crucial there is enough investment put into them so that races are largely unaffected by rain.
In the short term, some of the tracks on the NSW mid and north coast are going to need major redevelopments after this flooding.
It’s time to launch a track infrastructure fund and find a way to pay for it.
There’s going to be a major spotlight on NSW racing over the next four weeks as part of the Championships program and that would be a perfect time to leverage support.
I know that most Australians would at least be happy to make donations to the trainers impacted by the floods, some of whom had to swim their horses to safety.
But the tracks is a Racing NSW issue and V’landys needs to act now.
Regional racetracks keep the industry afloat from Sunday to Friday. Rosehill and Randwick do the heavy lifting on Saturdays, which is the way it should be, but the bush tracks are crucial to the industry.
Punters are more and more confident betting at places like Armidale, Moree, Wellington and Nowra, but they need to be sure they aren’t investing money on goat tracks that can reduce the fairness of racing.
Sometimes the rain will be too much and the industry can cop the odd cancelled meeting, but there have been far too many in the last six months for the issue to be ignored.
If he can save the NRL, Peter V’landys can surely fix this problem.
Affected NSW meetings
(prior to floods)
October 12 – Tamworth transferred to Gunnedah
October 27 – Hawkesbury abandoned
October 31 – Tumut abandoned
November 1 – Goulburn transferred to November 4
November 5 – Hawkesbury abandoned
December 14 – Kempsey abandoned
December 15 – Tamworth transferred to Gunnedah
December 18 – Lismore postponed to December 22
December 22 – Tamworth transferred to Armidale
December 22 – Armidale abandoned
December 31 – Gosford abandoned
January 1 – Port Macquarie abandoned
January 5 – Muswellbrook postponed to January 7
January 10 – Coffs Harbour abandoned
January 12 – Newcastle Beaumont transferred to Quirindi
January 20 – Newcastle Beaumont transferred to Wyong
January 23 – Deepwater abandoned
January 30 – Geurie picnic meeting transferred to Wellington
February 14 – Nowra abandoned
February 21 – Taree transferred to Scone
February 26 – Ballina abandoned
February 27 – Yass transferred to Goulburn
February 27 – Tuncurry transferred to Muswellbrook
February 28 – Armidale abandoned
March 6 – Bingara transferred to Glen Innes