ATA Victorian Branch – Members Update / Victoria / 09 Oct, 2012


The ATA Victorian Branch Committee for the 2012/2013 racing season, appointed following the recent annual elections, are: Colin Alderson (President), Robert Smerdon (Vice-President), Pat Carey (Secretary), Fran Houlahan, Danny O’Brien, Robbie Griffiths and Troy Corstens.


Chief Veterinary Steward Brian Stewart provided the Victorian Branch Committee with a presentation on the new Screening Limits Policy. Members would also have received an email from the ATA detailing the new policy.
Racing Victoria have advised that they will shortly include a recorded question and answer presentation with Brian Stewart on the new policy on their website, which trainers and interested parties could access. Brian has also indicated his availability to answer any questions about the new Screening Limits Policy and can be contacted at Racing Victoria.
After many years of raising this issue, finally the ATA is comforted by the information available to trainers and veterinarians when treating their horses with legitimate therapeutics.


Chief Steward Terry Bailey has agreed to an ATA request for trainers to be consulted on course during the process where a decision is made to cancel or abandon a race meeting after it has commenced.
Stewards have been directed to initially consult a member of the ATA Committee if they are present on-course at the race meeting, or in their absence, a senior Trainer or local Trainer or both. While the decision to cancel or abandon a race meeting will always ultimately rest with the Stewards, the ATA view has been that Trainers must be consulted and be given the opportunity to participate and provide input into the decision making process.


Racing Victoria have engaged IER Consultancy to review Training Track hours at the three major training centres at Flemington, Caulfield and Cranbourne. IER has already had an initial meeting with the ATA to brief us on the terms and scope of the Review and has also asked the ATA to nominate three Trainers from each of these Centres who they could directly communicate with for some in-depth feedback on the impact of any changes to the opening and closing hours at these three Centres.
The ATA Committee discussed the Review and Track Opening Times at its Committee meeting last week and acknowledged that any changes to the present arrangements need to consider many factors such as individual trainers’ work schedules with their staff and track riders as well as local Council/Shire arrangements with Clubs and Racing Victoria.
However, the benefits of later openings and/or closing times would be to the advantage of the racing industry by making it easier for Trainers to attract staff and of a better quality. Given the major changes in working hours, and importantly the OH&S issues which ultimately may force changes to training track opening hours, the final decisions on such issues are beyond the control of either the ATA, Race Clubs or Racing Victoria.
The Committee was of the view that a Review of Opening Hours is long overdue and the ATA would welcome input and feedback from trainers on this important issue.


Greg Carpenter will prepare and present the ATA with two options on this contentious issue, which was raised after the Ansett Classic at Mornington, for our consideration and response.


The ATA has sought a review of the Late Nomination fees for races (currently 3% of prize money). With the increased prize money, late nomination fees have also increased considerably, which in our view is excessive.
Racing Victoria has agreed to review the fee.


The expected appointment of Greg Nichols to the Board of Racing Victoria will add an important layer of racing experience to the Victorian governing body. Greg’s appointment has been strongly supported by the ATA.
Greg Nichols has a very impressive resume as a racing administrator, holding positions as the Chief Executive of SA Racing and as General Manager Racing Operations for Racing Victoria prior to taking up a position as Chief Executive of the British Horse Racing Board – one of the most important and powerful position in International racing.
Greg’s wealth of experience and understanding of some of the key issues facing the racing industry, and their impact on the stakeholders, will be a valuable asset in developing constructive long term strategies to meet the many challenges facing Victorian racing.


Racing Victoria has informed the ATA that the three metropolitan race clubs will be contacted and reminded of the need to ensure refreshment vouchers are provided for strappers during the spring racing carnival at their venues, and that accessible portable toilets are provided in close proximity to the stabling area at Flemington.


The cancellation of 16 race meetings across the eastern seaboard contributed to a downturn in wagering during July, while there was a slight increase in August.
While final wagering statistics are yet to be finalised for September, Racing Victoria expects a modest increase for the first three months of the new racing season.
It is expected that product fees returned to the industry from corporate bookmakers will show encouraging growth during the forthcoming spring racing carnival. Corporate bookmakers’ turnover during the past few months has been “soft”.
Racing Victoria expects the pending resolution of the media rights issues between Sky and TVN to have a have a positive impact on wagering revenue.


The Racing Minister, Denis Napthine, will shortly announce a major reconstruction of the Moe racecourse, which will involve one of the most significant infrastructure investments at a Victorian country race course for some time. The Moe Racing Club will contribute the bulk of the funding with support from the Racing Minister’s Infrastructure Fund (funded from unclaimed dividends) and Racing Victoria.
As a matter of record, the ATA proposed and lobbied for the return of unclaimed dividends to the racing industry, and since this initiative was established by the present Racing Minister, it has enabled a raft of essential infrastructure projects and important maintenance works to be undertaken at many country race tracks.


Racing Victoria has confirmed that work on the construction of new tie up stalls, along with the upgrading of existing ones, and the asphalting and general upgrade of the horse walk-area, is on schedule to commence after the Geelong Cup meeting, when the course proper will also undergo resurfacing and a makeover.
The three special-event Geelong race meetings during November and December will be transferred to the synthetic track, which will be maintained according to Racing Victoria specifications by contractor Pro-Ride. The turf race meetings scheduled for January and February will be transferred to turf venues.
Racing Victoria is also examining options for a link-up crossing for a possible new start between the 1300m - 1900m starts, and in particular, the financial feasibility of a “drop in” crossing.


Racing Victoria is reviewing the master plan for the construction of new on-course stabling at the Cranbourne Training Centre, in light of the costs associated with the original plan, which involved the construction of up to 400 new stables.