Legislative Assembly for the ACT: 2018 Week 07 Hansard (Tuesday, 31 July 2018) . . Page.. 2463 ..
Canberra-based trainers have been cruelly cut from these races. This is having an extremely negative effect. Highway handicaps are Saturday afternoon racing held at the metropolitan tracks in Sydney. They are restricted to horses trained in country centres, allowing non-Sydney trainers to go to the races in Sydney and for their owners to experience a big day at Royal Randwick or at Rosehill.
Until recently, highway handicaps were open to Canberra-based horses. I know firsthand what effect these events have on owners. The now retired racehorse Agrionius had two starts in Sydney, both of them in highway handicap races. We would never have gone to Sydney without it. Despite the fact that he was unplaced in both of his Sydney runs, it was one of the highlights of the syndicate’s time racing this horse.
Some months ago, the industry in New South Wales made the call to exclude Canberra-based trainers from highway handicaps. The announcement has been made that the Kosciuszko will also exclude Canberra-based trainers. This is a short-sighted and narrow-minded decision. It significantly weakens the industry here in the ACT.
Why is that short-sighted and narrow-minded from New South Wales? It is because strength in Canberra racing translates to strength for New South Wales racing in the surrounding regions. A large chunk, a little under half, of the prize money on offer here in Canberra is won by horses trained in New South Wales. So if our industry declines here, it will have a dramatic effect on racing in southern New South Wales.
The Canberra Racing Club has responded to the loss of highway handicaps by introducing their own version, the Federal, a series of higher prize money races just for Canberra-based trainers. But there is now growing pressure for a number of our trainers to leave, basically to set up stables just across the border in Queanbeyan, in Sutton or in Goulburn.
I will be meeting with Peter Stubbs from the Canberra Racing Club to discuss our possible options in this space in coming days. But I can foreshadow also that I intend to make contact with Peter V’landys from Racing New South Wales, with the racing minister in New South Wales and additionally with the New South Wales Deputy Premier to make it quite clear that we see this as an unfair situation and, hopefully, to put pressure on the powers that be in New South Wales to return to the status quo.
I still have hope that common sense will prevail in this space. In terms of advocating on behalf of the industry, in terms of lobbying in the spaces that I have already mentioned, I would love to see some support from the Minister for Regulatory Services. I am genuinely more than happy to brief his office and his staff in this space if they so choose.
MS ORR (Yerrabi) (5.58): I rise this evening once again to talk about Giralang shops. Members are well aware of the various updates I have provided to the Assembly and to the wider community during adjournment debates. I am very pleased that today