President’s Report 2013/2014

17
Jul

TAB SALE/INDUSTRY LOBBY GROUP

I don’t believe there is a bigger issue confronting the racing industry than the proposed privatisation of the TAB that was floated by the state government earlier this year.

I have no doubt the West Australian racing industry is sailing into unchartered waters and a powerful headwind with no line of sight at to what the future may hold.

Queensland, South Australia and Tasmanian TAB sell offs have had a dramatic and negative impact on their respective industries and we are reluctant to adopt a similar approach.

We have full confidence under the RWWA model and believe privatisation would hurt future distributions to the industry.

TAB growth in the past year has been the driving force behind a record distribution of $126.1 million to the three codes for the 2014-15 season.

In a bid to facilitate transparent communication between the racing industry and the state government a new lobby group has been formed.

The Western Australian Racing Representative Group (WARRG) Includes myself, Ron Sayers (Thoroughbreds), Fred Kersley (Harness), Kevin Jeavons (Harness) and David Simonette (Greyhounds).

WARGG represents strong, passionate and experienced advocates who are driven members of the racing community.

The State Government is yet to make a decision on the future of the TAB but WARRG will determinedly seek to be part of the process.

 ASCOT’S NEW PRO-RIDE TRACK

Following the decision to upgrade the 13-year-old ViscoRide track at Ascot, an Industry Working Group of RWWA, Perth Racing and the Western Australian Racing Trainer’s Association was established to undertake an assessment of a suitable replacement of the existing synthetic training track.

After extensive and exhaustive evaluation by the Industry Working Group and nominated evaluation representatives, the tender was awarded to Pro-Ride Racing Australia.

Work commenced in May 2014, primarily to remove the old visco-ride surface and to fully rebuild the base course to enable new drainage and new surfaces to be constructed. New cross-over entry points are also being built.

The manufacturing of the Pro-Ride surface has commenced and over the next few weeks will be deployed on to the new base course.

The decision to award the tender upgrade to Pro-Ride Racing Australia will see Ascot developed to the same specifications as the latest version of the product at Warwick Farm and Newcastle in New South Wales.

Glowing reports on the Pro-Ride Australia surface were extended to WA representatives including Dan Morton and Trevor Andrews, from Peter Snowden, Clarrie Connors, Bjorn Baker and Rick Worthington (President of the New South Wales Trainers’ Association).

The WARTA sincerely thanks RWWA and Perth Racing for their input and hard work and WARTA members Trevor Andrews and Dan Morton who gave up their valuable time to travel over east and be part of the evaluation team.

 NEWSLETTERS/WEBSITES

In an effort to facilitate and improve communication between the WARTA and its members, a web site and a monthly newsletter have been introduced.

WARTA is dedicated to building communication with our members and to be a reliable, trusted and respected source of valuable information.

Our aim is to promote and support trainer’s interests, enhance their profile and to inform them of trends and issues relating to the industry.

In keeping in line with modern communication trends and to further professionalise our image and industry, we have also established a Facebook and Twitter account.

The success and effectiveness of the website as a promotional tool is dependent on your support and feedback is welcomed and appreciated.

If any trainers are interested in contributing to the web site as Lou Luciani eloquently did on launch date, which attracted significant attention, they are encouraged to participate.

We take this opportunity to acknowledge the outstanding contribution Julio Santarelli has made, in making the WARTA website and newsletter a reality. Julio’s years of experience in all forms of racing media have proved invaluable and we sincerely thank Julio for his contribution.

 TRAINERS PROFESSIONALISM/IMAGE

The WARTA strongly believes that the professionalism of our trainers is something that will only improve and have long-term benefits individually and collectively for our whole industry in general.

With that in mind, senior members of the RWWA Thoroughbred Integrity (Stewards) and the WARTA met to further discuss their shared concerns regarding professionalism and the ability to maintain financial solvency, of a small percentage of thoroughbred trainers within the racing industry.

These concerns stem in part from feedback and observations in a small number of cases, of consistent failures to pay or address training debts to external parties such as Veterinary surgeons, stock feed merchants, farriers, etc. and a perceived general lack of professionalism.

With this in mind, the following refinements to conditions and policies, with respect to the issue and renewal of trainers’ license has been agreed and endorsed by both parties and will be implemented.

Prior to the issue of a trainers license renewal for the 2014-15 season, those trainers that have a past history of debt related issues will be contacted and required to satisfy the licensing stewards that their license to train should be renewed and that their continued operation as a trainer does not reflect negatively on, or bring into disrepute, the positive professional image of the majority of trainers. They may be required to provide financial records to stewards to satisfy them that they are currently solvent and that they have no outstanding debt.

All new applicants for a permit to train will only be permitted to train a maximum of five horses for the first 12 month period of their license, or until such time they demonstrate a suitable level of success and solvency within their business. After such time they can apply to stewards for an increase in number.

All new applicants for a trainer’s license must currently supply three references from persons within the racing industry. This will now be altered to include that at least one of those references must be from a licensed Open Class or B Class trainer, where the licensing stewards will conduct reference checks to ensure suitable standards of competency and professionalism will apply. 

ART EXHIBITION

The WARTA in association with the Western Australian Society of the Arts combined to present Free Spirit of the Thoroughbred art exhibition at Belmont Park in April.

The exhibition was commissioned during the Chinese Year of the Horse as part of a bid by WARTA to broaden the appeal of racing to the wider community.

We were keen to publicise our industry to an alternative audience not usually involved in racing, who could bring a fresh outlook and perspective on our horses and how we as trainers interact with them.

Based on artists work and the significant media focus it received, the art exhibition was an unqualified success and is planned to become an annual event.

All credit must go to Bob Maumill who was the brainchild behind the concept and worked tirelessly in attracting sponsorship and arranging for artists to visit stud farms and track work prior to the exhibition. 

MEMBERSHIP RENEWALS

Membership renewals are important to ensure the vitality and strength of any association and the WARTA is no different.

It provides a solid line of members who help build and maintain a strong community network and financial support.

The WARTA is the only body representing the interests of thoroughbred trainers in WA and its continued success depends on returning and new members.

Your continued membership matters and with your support the WARTA will remain strong, sustain growth and continue to effectively represent you during a challenging period for the West Australian racing industry.

 ASCOT/BUNBURY STALLS

The WARTA, in conjunction with Perth Racing, undertook major renovations of the Ascot stalls, which included:

  • Completion of new stall blocks in the south-west corner, including trialling fibreglass panelling at the rear of the stalls.
  • Replacement of gutters on the stalls
  • Painting of stalls to improve the visual aesthetics
  • Repairs and replacement of boards and fixing rail
  • Replacement of asphalt

The improvements cost $300,000 and ties in with the Pro-Ride redevelopment and new plastic rail on both the synthetic track and the Belmont trial track to ensure the training and race day facilities are safe and user friendly for both trainers and jockeys.

And in further positive news and a major boost for country racing the Bunbury Turf Club has received approval for the installation of a new row of stalls to their club.