Trainers Update

Dear Trainer,

A total of 194, or 78% of the 251 thoroughbred trainers licensed in South Australia, responded to 1 or more of the 5 survey questions the ATA sent out by text across 9-13 September.

This exercise produced some interesting, and equally pointed results, on issues that included jumps racing, the new Provincial prizemoney distribution model, Saturday programming for racing at Morphettville, and preferences for infrastructure investment, as follows:

Q1 | Would you support once a month, instead of running an 8 race card at Morphettville on the Saturday, running a 7 race card, which would lead to two or three races offering a ‘premium’ prizemoney pool of $60-70,000.

View survey response for Q1

Q2 | The increase in PROVINCIAL racing prizemoney includes a new distribution model – previously prizemoney was paid to horses finishing 1 – 4, now it is 1 – 8. What is your view of this new model?
1 = I support this new model 100%
2 = I support a wider distribution, but would limit this to the first 6
3 = My preference is the original model, with the money distributed between those finishing 1 – 4

View survey response for Q2

Q3 | Will your stable train/invest in a jumps horse/s?
1 = we already do
2 = likely to happen this 19/20 season
3 = it’s a possibility in the next 2 to 3 years
4 = unlikely
5 = never

View survey response for Q3

Q4 | Would you support changing the mix of races run at the standard Morphettville Saturday meeting, to include more lower rated race types e.g.: BM66’s or Maidens, at the expense of a higher rated race type e.g.: BM 70 or 75 race?
1 = Yes, happy to support an immediate change
2 = Happy to trial this and see how this works
3 = No, not supportive of this proposal at all

View survey response for Q4

Q5 | The recent Government funding TRSA received included $2.9M for short term infrastructure works. In your opinion, and in order of priority, which training facilities and/or racing course proper in SA, should this money be invested into?

View survey response for Q5


Q1 | Opinion amongst respondents was split reasonably evenly, with 55% (81) supporting this concept, whilst 45% (65) were against this.

Negatives raised included concern that higher stakes races would encourage a greater number of Victorian “raiders” to target these races. Others suggested that this would simply be to the benefit of the larger, local trainers with their better horses.

To the positive, trainers cited higher prizemoney opportunities would appeal to owners, with the flow on effect the opportunity to generate more investment into horse ownership. Others suggested this would encourage trainers to target these higher valued races, producing full fields and in turn, improving wagering turnover and associated revenues.

Q2 | There was strong support from respondents to the new Provincial prizemoney model. 57% (82) of respondents supported the new structure i.e.: prizemoney 1st-8th. A further 22% (31) supported the idea of an expanded prizemoney model, albeit felt 1st-6th was more appropriate.

Only 21% (32) felt the increased prizemoney should have been shared equitably between 1st- 4th, as per the previous prizemoney model.

Q3 | A significant proportion of respondents – more than 75% (128) - advised it was unlikely or never their intention to invest in a jumps horse in SA at this time.

Of the other respondents, 7.7% (13) indicated they have a jumps horse &/or actively race a jumps horse, whilst 6.5% (11) intend to invest in a jumps horse in season 19/20. A further 10.5% (18) indicated they MAY consider investing in a jumps horse in the seasons beyond 2020 IF prizemoney and the racing environment supported this.

Concerns included the fact that there are no jumps jockeys’ resident in SA. In terms of events, of the 26 races in season 19/20, 12 offered less than $20K in total prizemoney. This level of return makes it financially unattractive to invest in a jumps horse. And it is more so difficult when you consider for the remaining 14 races, invariably the more seasoned and better performed Victorian horses make a habit of targeting – and routinely winning – these races.

The clear message to TRSA was they MUST change up the current model if they want to attract any form of broad local support & sustainable investment.

Q4 | The second largest response from respondents was to this question.

85% (143) indicated strong support to changing the mix of races at Morphettville on a Saturday, to include a greater ratio of lower rated races. In opposition to this was a mere 15% (25) of respondents.

If we review Saturday (Morphettville, Morphettville Parks Murray Bridge) racing across 10 August 2019 to 28 September 2019, Maidens & BM66 races average 1.5 race types for each of the eight weeks.

Q5 | There was a broad mix of feedback from the 104 respondents, with the overwhelming view expressed that there is a greater need for investment at almost every track and training facility in South Australia.

In terms of individual track and facility upgrades, respondents repeatedly identified five tracks in particular that they felt should be the priority for forward infrastructure spend. In order of mentions:

1. Morphettville (both grass tracks) - 28
2. Strathalbyn (course proper and training facilities) - 24
3. Gawler (main track and facilities i.e.: pool, sand roll, etc.) - 17
4. Murray Bridge (finishing works for training) - 16
5. Balaklava (course proper) – 15


This information was presented to TRSA last week. Their CEO, Mr Jim Watters, in turn, passed this on to the TRSA Board for a high-level discussion amongst board members.

This was also shared by TRSA at the Stakeholders meeting held 30 September, attended by the TRSA Board, SAJC and CRSA, and the four sector group representatives (owners, jockeys, trainers and breeders).

Mr Jim Watters indicated there would be ongoing debate around this and other matters, for some time. It was also confirmed Mr Vaughn Lynch, previously CEO of Tasracing therefore well versed in racing matters, has been engaged to assist TRSA with a series of thoroughbred racing projects. One of his first projects is to review programming and handicapping matters in SA, and where these may be improved. Hence, Mr Lynch will be integral to our ongoing discussions in this space.

We will provide trainers with further updates as appropriate.

Should you wish to provide your feedback in writing in relation to these matters, please do so by clicking here.

Alternatively, contact the office on (03) 9372-1688 should any one wish to discuss this with myself.

Kind Regards

Andrew Nicholl
Chief Executive Officer