STONY Creek Racing Club CEO Terry Grace says they will fight a decision by Racing Victoria which will see the club lose a race meeting and miss out on training centre funding from 2016-17.
The announcement was made last Tuesday under a new training facilities and infrastructure plan.
Mr Grace says while they were aware of the funding cuts, he described the decision to reduce the club’s meets from five per season to four as extremely disappointing.
“I have to say the club is very disappointed,” Mr Grace said.
“We have been running really excellent meetings, which have been well supported by the local community and holiday makers.
“The aim of Racing Victoria is to engage the local community and showcase thoroughbred racing, but what they are doing is the opposite.”
Under the new plan Stony Creek’s, along with other Gippsland racing club’s including Traralgon and Bairnsdale, training funding will be axed.
Mr Grace said the “two part” funding cut was not new news, and the club had already experienced the first stage of cuts.
But he said when the second cuts are implemented the club is going to have to make ‘significant changes’.
“The funding cuts are not a surprise,” he said.
“We had been aware that was happening. It is a two stage cut to the funding of training and we have already had the first cut happen.”
Following the first reduction in funding, the club was forced to restrict the amount of training they could offer.
And when the next round of cuts take place in 2016-17, Mr Grace warned further restrictions would occur.
“We still have full use of the sand and grass tracks, and the current funding will remain in place for the next two years,” he said.
“At the moment we haven’t made any decisions on the future of training here at the club yet, but there will have to be some structural changes made due to the cuts.
“We will still maintain the grass track, but it is harder to see a future for the sand track.”
While the club may have been prepared for the funding cuts, the loss of a race meet has been a blow for the committee.
“We would like to see more race meets here not less,” Mr Grace said.
“Because we only have five meets a year, this is going to have quite an impact on us.
“We are disappointed and I will be talking to Racing Victoria and Country Racing Victoria to see if we can get the decision changed.”
Adding to the disappointment is the fact that the number of race meets across the state is not being reduced, rather individual clubs are having meets taken from them and given to other clubs.
“What stands out to me is that most other tracks are not losing meetings, they are basically keeping the same or some are gaining a meet,” Mr Grace said.
There are 413 meets a season, Racing Victoria are maintaining that number, but promoting events such as night racing in Cranbourne and taking meets from clubs like Stony Creek.
“We feel we are doing more with our five meets than other clubs; we have increased our betting turnover, have strong competition and our track is great.
“We are disappointed, but we will be fighting this.”The Nationals Member for Eastern Region Victoria, Danny O’Brien has also weighed in on the announcement, calling for the Minister for Racing Martin Pakula to step in and stop the downgrading of local racing clubs.
“I am very concerned that this plan sees the continued contraction of support away from small country racing venues into larger regional centres and Melbourne,” Mr O’Brien said.
“It is just a further example of country facilities and events being eroded incrementally and I think it needs to stop.
“I am most concerned about the removal of training funding and one meeting for Stony Creek as it is the only professional club in South Gippsland.”
Mr O’Brien said the plan states that it wants a good ‘geographical spread’ of facilities and meetings but downgrading Stony Creek doesn’t help to achieve that aim.
“We are all looking forward to the Stony Creek Cup on the Labour Day long weekend in a few weeks as it is one of the sporting and social events of the year for South Gippsland,” Mr O’Brien said.
“I believe we need to maintain this club’s race meetings and training funding to ensure a strong presence for racing in South Gippsland.”