** Kindly supplied by the Western Australian Racing Trainers Association
As city stakemoney is cut for the first time in decades, trainers are facing the reality of rising costs, worn-out racing and training facilities, fewer jockeys and track riders and prohibitive start-up costs. That was the story told to RWWA officer Charlotte Mills and RWWA Director Bob Pearson as they met trainers during part of a Strategic Review of Racing.
The cost cutting that has hit stakes is chiefly due to the $13 million charges the WA TAB is meeting to use racing information from other States, some of which will be retrieved when legislation goes through State Parliament.
Meanwhile, trainers listed their main concerns as:
Despite below-average winter rains, tracks at Belmont and Northam are showing signs of heavy wear and tear, highlighting the need for another winter racing venue. It was claimed Belmont, the most-used winter track in Australia, was nearing the end of its lifetime and needs a complete renewal from the base up. Northam required a rest which could come with Pinjarra hosting meetings coming into and out of the winter season or a secondary “sand” racing track being built at Northam. RWWA advised that inquiries have revealed a huge cost of establishing and maintaining a synthetic track and nothing has been invented to replace grass.
The cost of establishing stables in the metropolitan area has become prohibitive for young men and women entering the training industry and with fewer Ascot stables coming into the market. This has created the need for on-course stabling, whether at Ascot or Belmont.
Training facilities at Ascot are suffering from wear and tear because of overuse and are a major cause of injuries to horses. Suggested remedies for the use of provincial training tracks at Northam and Pinjarra face the reality of a shortage of jockeys and trackwork riders who prefer to remain in the city or at Lark Hill.
Trainers claimed a generation of WA jockeys face retirement in the next few years and there are insufficient apprentices coming through the apprentice system. Like other States in Australia, trackwork riders are in short supply. The growing size of young Australians and their lifestyles meant that fewer suitable applicants are being received for apprenticeships and many quickly gain weight preventing them continuing in the industry. It was suggested that RWWA investigate and report on the obstacles facing the import of jockeys and track riders similar to what occurs in the United States.
The Strategic Plan Review is expected to be completed and published in October this year when further input will be sought from all racing participants.
Concept designs for a three lane dual carriageway on Great Eastern Highway from Kooyong Road to the Perth Airport turnoff are expected to be completed by mid-2010, according to Main Roads WA.
Trainers have called for a right-hand turn signal at the Epsom Avenue lights where float drivers frequently have to “run a red light” to get to the Ascot race track.
Main Roads said improvement works at this site will be deferred until the concept designs for the “black spot” have been determined.
It’s that time of the year when new apprentice jockeys like Cara Angel see a fair bit of the West Australian country as they travel to far flung centres to gain riding experience that is proving invaluable to their careers.
Since completing her period of trials Cara has had engagements in Kalgoorlie, Roebourne, Port Hedland, Northam, Marble Bar and Carnarvon and in between has been riding at Belmont where she was placed aboard Lucky Trainer on June 17.
Cara opened her winning account on Ihts Cumin in a 1200m race at Port Hedland on June 27 and a week later rode Colonel Ralph to victory at Marble Bar. Since then she has added two further wins aboard Novoya at Carnarvon on July 18 and Aknightus at the same track on August 1.
Cara Angel is apprenticed to Henley Brook trainer Brendon Fitzgerald and is one of two new riders chosen by Apprentice Riding Master Laurie Millington for an encouragement award.
David Corp completed his trial rides in June and within a month he was riding at Carnarvon where he recorded his first win aboard Queen of the Desert over 1400m for trainer Glen Cortes on July 18. Two weeks later he made it a stable double with wins on Queen of the Desert over 1600m and Three Knowalls over 1000m.
Corp is apprenticed to David Harrison.
Millington described both Cara Angel and David Corp as dedicated young riders who with further experience will become part of the next generation of jockeys in WA.
Each rider will receive a $200 Encouragement Award jointly sponsored by West Australian trainers and Bio John.
HI GAINS AWARDS
Racing journalist Ernie Manning found a couple of well-known country training identities in selecting recent winners of Hi Gains Awards. They included:
Cups Treble: The nine-year-old gelding Kwila has always been a handy bush horse, but in the far north he’s proved unbeatable when Cup time comes round. On July 25, Kwila won the Roebourne Cup for a record third successive time. Trainer Peter Dellar, a builder based at Exmouth, has dominated Roebourne’s brief racing season this year. He has also had some big results at Port Hedland where Kwila’s record includes a second in the Port Hedland Cup this year and a track-record win two years ago. It has been an impressive training performance with a horse that has experienced leg problems for some time.
Money-Horse: Every stable yearns for one – a galloper that keeps the pot boiling by regularly “paying the rent.” For former NSW mentor Kevin Mcauley, who trains a small team, that horse has proved to be the six-year-old mare Sleepwalk. Sleepwalk’s win in a fillies and mares race on August 1 took her record to 23 starts for 20 cheques.
Favourite Son: It’s that time of the year when Kalgoorlie’s favourite son Frank Maynard targets the annual racing round with a couple of horses and this year they may well be Escadaire and Kid Chosir, a winning double for the trainer on August 8, including the $75,000 Belmont Newmarket. Maynard has won a record six Kalgoorlie Cups, four Hannans Handicaps, three Boulder Cups and one Coolgardie Cup. The remarkable horseman, who still competes in rodeos and rides his own bush work, will again have a big following in Kalgoorlie this September.