A recent independent study into the economic future of WA’s racehorse trainers has detailed the
significant vulnerability of the sector and the need for urgent reform to avoid a wholesale collapse of
the WA racing industry.
The WA Racing Trainers Association (Inc.) commissioned former WARRG Chairman Michael Grant,
and respected industry analyst Scott McDowell to undertake a study of WA training businesses and
the state’s thoroughbred racing industry to determine the strength and vulnerability of the code’s
lynch pin cohort, in the face of increasing economic pressures.
In examining industry performance and trends overlaid by the structure and successes of WA
training businesses. The review was able to conclude that without significant intervention and
reform at an industry level and by individual training operations, there is a very real risk that a
number of WA’s established and emerging trainers are facing an uncertain future and their loss has
the potential to trigger a partial or complete collapse of WA racing.
“In examining the cost of production facing WA trainers, it is clear that it is costing more to train a
horse on behalf of our stable clients, than trainers are receiving in training fees” WARTA Executive
Officer Warwick Bradshaw said.
“Costs have risen exponentially over the past 4 or 5 years and
training fees across the board have certainly not kept pace. And that was before the most recent
inflation indicators, which I can assure you pale alongside some of the rising costs WA trainers are
now experiencing, with no end in sight.”
The review shows that most trainers are making large net losses on horses they have in work and
that the flow down of stake money is insufficient for many to make up the shortfall. While increases
in stakemoney, riding fees and starter incentives recently announced will be welcome, much of this
increased funding will not find its way to the very businesses that have the largest financial stake
and commitment in the industry.
“The concern here has to be the viability of WA trainers” Bradshaw said, “These people are
responsible for the care of the animals in their charge, and they will put the horses in front of
everything else but eventually following the current trends, they will collapse. Once that occurs a
trickle becomes a stream, and there will be wholesale loss of experience and skill from the industry
that won’t be easily replaced.
The report calls for significant reform in the manner by which trainers generate revenue to meet the
costs of production, and calls for changes to the way professional standards and qualifications of WA
racehorse trainers are administered. It also highlights the significant impact spiralling workers
compensation premiums are having on the sustainability of businesses, in what is traditionally a
labour intensive industry.
In providing the analysis to Racing and Wagering WA senior management, and presenting same to
industry participants the WA Racing Trainers Association are calling for urgent action by the
industry to make the necessary corrections before risk turns to reality.
Hall of Fame member and veteran trainer Fred Kersley. “What this review does is place the facts
squarely in the frame, it examines the situation faced by all WA trainers thoroughly. All participants
but particularly, all trainers owe it to themselves to read the report and attend the seminars, become
part of the solution by understanding how your business is being impacted.”
The Western Australian Racing Trainers’ Association’s Economic Viability &
Sustainability of the Thoroughbred Training Sector Review is the most comprehensive
study of thoroughbred training ever undertaken in WA, if not Australia.
It clearly shows the evolution of the business of training without structure has led to significant deficiencies which have
been further exposed in recent times. The risks to the long term future of thoroughbred racing in
WA posed by a failure to begin addressing the issues and trends identified in the report are dire and
cannot be ignored.
It is incumbent of RWWA management and industry leaders to develop and undertake the necessary reforms before the industry reaches a critical tipping point from which it may not recover.
WARTA calls for RWWA as the lead industry body to address recommendations made in the review
as a matter of urgency and instigate a restructuring of the sector to reflect a professional standard
that becomes a template for sustainability.