ATA Victorian Branch – Members Update / Victoria / 05 Mar, 2009


The debacle of track management and preparation continues to rear its ugly head in Victorian racing. Despite all attempts to address the issue with the drafting of penalties for offending clubs, the problem persists and trainers and jockeys have completely lost confidence and patience with the existing arrangements.

The ATA, almost on a weekly basis, receives well founded complaints from trainers about the preparation of racing surfaces, with over watering often the main problem. These problems have also been confirmed in discussions that the ATA has held with the Victorian Jockeys Association.

The penalty system which RVL has formulated clearly has not had an impact on race clubs, despite clear breaches of RVL’s Track Preparation Policy and continuing failures to comply with the fundamentals of track preparation. This “feather duster” approach just does not work, and RVL needs to demonstrate that it will not tolerate continual blatant breaches and failure to comply with its policy.

The present system, where club appointed track managers are not answerable to a central body, clearly is at the crux of many of these recurring problems.

The solution - and one which the ATA has advocated for a long time - is for RVL to take over and assume responsibility for track management and track preparation in Victoria and ensure that this key area of racing operations works the way it should.


The ATA’s submission on the Directions Paper was presented to RVL last month. The ATA submission follows a process of extensive consultation with Member trainers in regional areas and a wide cross section of industry participants.

These discussions have focused attention on the glaring shortcomings in, and a complete absence of a proper accountability process, for ensuring funds made available to country race clubs through the Training Tracks Maintenance Fund are strictly used for that very purpose for which they are intended.

It has become abundantly clear this “wastage” of funds and their use for other administrative and operational purposes have distorted the whole question of how much funding is really needed for the maintenance of training facilities and the repair of rundown facilities and surfaces at many country centres.

The ATA has called for an immediate overhaul to the present outdated structure of country racing administration, along with the implementation of a strict audit process in relation to the allocation of funds.

The important operational questions relating to the future model for training facilities, race dates, the installation of synthetic racing surfaces and the like cannot be made until the core issues surrounding the overhaul of country racing administration is addressed as a first priority and as a result, has called for the recommendations of the Directions Paper to be shelved.