** Kindly supplied by the Western Australian Racing Trainers Association
THE INDUSTRY REPORT
The West Australian racing industry, and particularly trainers, should prepare for tough times in the next decade as the introduction of product fees bites and intense competition for the gambling dollar heats up.
The Industry Strategic Plan released recently says there is a need for innovation and a fresh outlook in an industry now being challenged as never before. Questions are raised on the number of trainers licensed in WA, the future of Ascot as a training venue and the real possibility of a “user pays” system for trackwork.
The report says racing has moved into an era of “payment for product” with all principal racing authorities now competing for maximum income generation in competition with “low cost” betting operators, new forms of wagering technologies like the Internet and even some States cutting taxation levels to attract customers.
Racing in WA is almost totally funded by revenues generated from on and off-course wagering, of which thoroughbred racing contributes 52.5%. However, of that percentage, only 15.5% is wagered on WA product with interstate and international racing taking the rest. Product fees are already costing WA racing $5 million a year.
Other aspects of the report specifically related to trainers are :
> There are 705 trainers licensed in WA (1171 in NSW, 1167 in Victoria, 1104 in Queensland and 332 in South Australia). The ratio of individual horses raced to the number of WA trainers is 5 - 1 (in other States around 9 - 1) which the reports says is particularly low and not commercially sustainable in the long term.
> An area of significant focus will be that of training sustainability. It has been recommended that an evaluation of long-term training and racing requirements is undertaken, taking into account Ascot’s capacity to accommodate long-term stabling along with horse population demands.
> Six key provincial venues - Bunbury, Pinjarra, Northam, Albany, Geraldton and Kalgoorlie will continue to be the focus of track and training investment. Those tracks have about 50% of individual starters racing and provide significant training and racing opportunities for a large part of WA’s racing product.
In effect, the report sees WA as having too many trainers, questions whether or not Ascot will remain a training centre long-term and forecasts increased training costs.
Stagnant betting turnover in the last year means there will be little chance of increased stakemoney in the near future. However, RWWA has proposed to progressively set inner provincial state levels to those of mid-week metropolitan stake levels. In turn outer provincial stakes will be set at 80% of mid-week levels and country stakes at 50% of mid-week levels.
Racing journalist Ernie Manning noted some excellent autumn training efforts when he awarded recent Hi-Gains awards. They included:
Birthday Boy : Adam Durrant celebrated his 29th birthday with a winning Ascot treble on March 6 with outsider Le Plunge providing the cream by winning the $175,000 Champion Fillies Stakes. His other winners that day were with Saytorio and My Becks. It was the start of a big week for the Karnup trainer who added another winning treble at Bunbury three days later.
Reining Champ : Hazelmere trainer, Mark Reed, better known as one of the top trainer-reinsmen in the trotting industry, has a good strike rate at the gallops in recent times. He won the last Kalgoorlie Cup with Gorndoff and on March 11 added the $130,000 Bunbury Cup to his name with Whipsaw. The galloper was having only his sixth run in a race and 11 days earlier won a maiden race at Pinjarra.
Bargain Buy : Eric Wake found a real bargain at the Perth Yearling Sales when he picked up Cheri Cheval for $3,500. Shares were sold in the horse that has since won three Ascot races and almost $100,000 in stakes, including the $75,000 Raconteur Stakes on March 20. The Hazelmere trainer was a battling jockey before taking out a licence to train.
Back to the Top : Prior to heading to David Hayes stables for an Eastern States campaign, Calico Blue had shown top form in WA, but she never regained that form. Back in Geraldton, the seven-year-old mare was resurrected by trainer Rhona Macphilomey and went on to win the $80,000 Geraldton Cup on March 28. Rhona, a former jockey in England, also rode in Geraldton before taking out a trainer’s licence.
Marasco Magic : Marasco, one of the State’s best gallopers, made a significant return to racing for trainer Fred Kersley at Ascot by winning the $150,000 Hyperion Stakes on March 20 before adding the $125,000 Strickland Stakes on April 3. It was the seven-year-old’s first outing since June when he was taken out of work for a knee operation.
Derby Aim : Trainer Wally Mitchell, best known for his efforts with Horse of the Year Placid Ark several decades ago, is not as busy as he used to be, but from time to time he produces a class horse. Brother Mac, winner of the $75,000 Melvista Stakes on April 10, is the current stable star. The three year old was purchased by Mitchell in New Zealand for stable client Santosa Wirya to head for the WA Derby.