Perth Racing Chairman Colin Brown joined TABradio’s The Sports Daily on Tuesday morning to answer questions regarding the Belmont Park redevelopment, Ascot racecourse’s future and other pressing matters.
BELMONT PARK REDEVELOPMENT:
“There will be some direction in the short, medium and long-term about Belmont through this year,” Brown said.
“It’s like turning a really big flywheel, you’ve got to do a lot of work before it starts moving and once it moves, you gain your momentum.
“It’s not an easy solution.
“We’ve got to manage two things at Belmont; the land that we don’t own with our neighbours in the Golden Group and how they can continue their construction without interrupting racing, so we work with them on that.
“Then the longer-term issue about how do we do we get a grandstand there and how do we look at the parking moving forward?
“We’ve got a few irons in the fire with that at the moment that we’re working on and trying to be a little bit innovative with because it’s not something we can just come out and say, ‘we’re going to build a new grandstand’.
“There’s a lot of work going on behind the scenes and we’re working more closely with RWWA on that at the moment, so it is certainly high on our list for 2022.”
SHADOWING AND OTHER POTENTIAL IMPLICATIONS OF GOLDEN GROUP’S CONSTRUCTION AROUND BELMONT PARK:
“We’ve been meeting fortnightly with their group going through all of those,” Brown said.
“Our role is to ensure that their build doesn’t impact on racing and they’ve been great.
“We’ve had firm discussions but it’s respectful and, for us, we need to make sure whatever the issues are catered for.
“Certainly shadowing is a concept where they’ve been great in terms of providing information so we can look at those and get feedback on that.
“I think both groups want an outcome that satisfies their own needs … but both groups are also respectful of their neighbours, so-to-speak.”
NIGHT RACING AND AN ALL-WEATHER TRACK AT BELMONT PARK:
“I think everything’s in the planning and that’s certainly an option,” Brown said.
“Night racing is beautiful for our climate, but I don’t know how the wagering goes with wagering, particularly if you’re going to do it during summer when you’ve got three hours difference between here and the eastern states.
“There might be those sorts of impacts on it, but the concept of being able to do that certainly I think would suit that track really nicely.”
THE CURRENT BELMONT PARK TRACK:
“It seems to be holding up really well,” Brown said.
“We’re giving it a double dose at the moment in terms of racing over summer and it seems to be holding up really well.
“It’s the first time we’ve been able to do this and it’s a bit of kudos to RWWA for being able to provide us with the funding to be able to run both tracks parallel so we can potentially use that moving forward.
“The issue tended to be because we had to move equipment from one to the other because we didn’t have two sets of a lot of things and now we do.
“They are set up independent of each other, so that gives us that flexibility.”
IS THERE A STAFF AND CULTURE CRISIS AT PERTH RACING?
“No, I wouldn’t of thought so at all,” Brown said.
“It’s been a pretty tough six months or so, but certainly we’re through that.
“We’ll announce our new CEO in the next day or so and the new track manager position will be announced this week, so I would’ve thought the opposite.
“The crew are gelling really well and looking forward to the future.”
OUTGOING INTERIM CEO STUART CROCKETT:
“He’s not resigned, he was under contract and he’s fulfilled that in a marvelous way and is going back to his normal life,” Brown said.
“We’ve had a few people that came out and said, ‘we’ll help you through’ and Stuart was one of those and done a great job.
“He’s ready now to go back his normal life and his normal businesses.
“We went through a CEO recruitment process and we’ll announce that this week.”
APPOINTING THE NEW TRACK MANAGER:
“One of the great things about that is that we had some industry people actually on the panel which was really good,” Brown said.
“We’re really excited about that as well and, once again, Keith (Langley) stood up when he really needed to over the carnival.
“He helped us through and we part ways best of friends, there’s no issue there at all.”
PERTH RACING’S INDEPENDENT CULTURAL REVIEW:
“That was done a number of months ago,” Brown said.
“We said we would release the implementations and we’ve done all that and we’re implementing them now.
“It’s really interesting because what came out was probably what a lot of organisations undertaking a similar review would get, in terms of it’s not only our physical infrastructure that was ageing but our approach to people, culture and human resources was also ageing.
“It went from building teams, building leadership, having a communication strategy across all and it talked about that silos have developed, which happens in many organisations.
“The outcomes were about really turning it into a contemporary approach to human resources and that’s what we’re doing.
“We accepted the recommendations, all the recommendations, and we’re implementing them at the moment.”
WHEN IS PERTH RACING’S VISION RIGHTS CONTRACT UP FOR RENEWAL?
“2024 for us,” Brown said.
“We’re talking to RWWA at the moment about the concept of one total vision rights for all of the thoroughbred clubs.
“Ours comes up in 2024 because we were offset against the others but the other clubs I think are doing something at the moment and we’re not involved in that, but we’re hoping to square up in 2024.”
RWWA NEGOTIATING AN ALL-IN-ONE VISION RIGHTS CONTRACT FOR THROUGHBREDS:
“That’s what we’re talking to them about at the moment,” Brown said.
“If we can get a better result for everyone then that makes sense.
“We’re having those discussions at the moment because Perth Racing has theirs separately.
“We’re now reasonably regularly saying, ‘what will it look it and how will it come together’?
“They’re good discussions going forward.”
THE POSSIBILITY OF RACING.COM INSTEAD OF SKY RACING:
“We haven’t discussed anything about the details of what that negotiation would be,” Brown said.
“What we’ve been discussing at the moment is more ‘who’s in it and do we do it as one group or not?’.
“There hasn’t been any of the negotiations happening at all for 2024 at this stage.
“It will be looked at with fresh eyes and saying, ‘how do we get the best outcome?’”
PERTH RACING’S MAIN AIMS FOR 2022:
“I think we need to really be able to produce our vision for racing moving into the future,” Brown said.
“Is Ascot, for instance, going to be a world-class racing and training venue?
“What does that mean and what does that mean to trainers, owners and patrons?
“For me and the board it’s about articulating that vision that we then move towards and of course for us underpinning has always got to be financial sustainability and asking, ‘how can we make ourselves more sustainable in the future?’”
MAKING A SUSTAINABLE FUTURE:
“Very few, if any and probably no race clubs sustain themselves on racing,” Brown said.
“We’ve done a really good job of being cash positive.
“Each year we’ve tightened up where we’ve needed to tighten up so we can run the club really well as most clubs can.
“It’s the infrastructure that knocks you around and people need to have other sources of revenue to be able to do larger-scale maintenance or development.
“We’ve got to look at that and say, ‘how can we order our non-racing revenue streams that we can pick up that doesn’t involve selling land and be able to sustain the future and become more flexible and not reliant on the government or RWWA for handouts and support?’.
“The broader vision for what we look like is underlying sustainability and continuing to build a really strong and vibrant culture within the organisation and I think we’re a long way into doing that.”
ON-COURSE STABLING AT ASCOT:
“That comes up in the ‘what does a world-class training venue at Ascot look like?’,” Brown said.
“Does that mean on-course stabling and what does it actually mean?
“So that gives us a chance to investigate that, as well.”