** Kindly supplied by the Western Australian Racing Trainers Association
WA racing trainers must be wondering what they must do to earn parity with trainers in all other States on a subject that has dogged them for over 40 years – percentages of stakes earned.
The Australian Trainers’ Association has pointed out that WA is the only State in the nation where trainers’ percentages are confined to the first three places in a race. In all other States the payments go up to fifth place and in some cases up to 10th place.
Additionally, bonus monies provided in schemes such as the Westspeed Owner and Breeder Scheme are included in benefits received by trainers in every State except Western Australia. What all this has meant is that in the last four decades trainers in this State have been deprived of millions of dollars.
Example: Take a simple Ascot Saturday meeting run on February 5 with stake money totaling $340,000 when the minimum trainers’ bonuses should have been $34,000 instead of the $31,960 paid out for the eight-race program. There were also three Westspeed races that day where trainers again missed out. Even for a mid-week program, trainers dip out on $120 per $20,000 race. Per race that may appear insignificant, per meeting it is significant, per year it is even more so. Then add in races such as the $500,000 Karakatta Plate where trainers lose out on $5500 for one race alone and the shortfall is even greater.
Puzzling: The reluctance of racing authorities to correct this anomaly is puzzling, especially when they bend over backwards to help other sections of the industry. Jockeys never have to wait for their fees to be lifted to the national level and the recent decision of Perth Racing to drop stakes for prime racing to $45,000 was quickly offset by RWWA in altering the Westspeed scheme to enable owners and breeders to race for stakes of up $51,750 in their first two seasons of racing. RWWA have had a request from the national training body to lift WA trainers to the Australian standard since November, yet nothing has occurred to alter the situation and trainers here are still being paid for three places only.
Meetings have been held between trainers and racing officials to improve the safety of horses and their handlers coming to and from Ascot for trackwork. Widening of the existing walkway in Mathieson Road from Epson Avenue and the addition of a walkway inside Ascot are to be considered while handlers will be instructed to wear their safety vests when leading horses.
HI GAINS WINNERS
A couple of impressive training efforts on country tracks are among recent winners of weekly Hi Gains Awards named by racing journalist Ernie Manning.
Esperance Treble: Former jockey Rod Kirkup led in a winning treble at Esperance on January 22 though the efforts of Perelmo, Lyoveldio and Put Option. Kirkup is in his second year as a trainer, having dominated Esperance meetings as a jockey for many years. Originally apprenticed to Colin Webster, for whom he rode Hasten Lass to win the Apprentices Cup 40 years ago, Kirkup’s most memorable ride was aboard Go The Surt to win the 2006 Hannans Handicap for Esperance trainer Michael Harding.
Wally’s Winner: Perth mentor Wally Mitchell always manages to find a handy horse on his visits to New Zealand sales. His latest addition Big Hold Up has added to that record by winning the $80,000 Challenge Stakes on January 29 to become a leading contender for the WA Derby. Big Hold Up had one unplaced run in New Zealand before coming to WA and winning his first three starts at Belmont in May-June last year. He missed the summer carnival when Mitchell decided to let the three-year-old mature and his second up success over 1400m was full of merit.
Home Track: Albany trainer Steve Wolfe, who has made his mark at race meetings throughout the State, showed he can also dominate his home track with a winning treble with Lily La Bell, Stormy Sunset and I’m Here to Win on February 6. Two of the winners were ridden by his promising apprentice Alex Lawrence.
Bargain Buy: A win in a $10,000 maiden race at Pinjarra on January 30, when he raced greenly, was enough to convince Serpentine trainer David Harrison that Western Fever deserved a shot at Perth’s $250,000 Magic Millions 2YO Classic on February 12. The filly, who cost $26,000, picked up $144,000 by winning the race, making her the “bargain buy” of last year’s Perth Yearling Sales and adding to Harrison’s record as a trainer with one of the best winning percentages in Australia.