The Riverina’s wait for new premier harness racing facility could finally be coming to an end.
After almost a decade of discussion Harness Racing NSW (HRNSW) officials are hopeful they will get the green light to develop their preferred North Wagga site in November.
The latest development application is awaiting approval by the Southern Joint Regional Planning Committee and if the go ahead is granted the new 1070-metre track and surrounding facility is expected to surpass Bathurst.
The entire HRNSW board plus chief executive John Dumesny and chief operating officer Reid Sanders spent the last two days in Wagga consulting with each of the region’s nine clubs.
The new track and the spread of meetings were some of the major talking points, with Dumesny believing harness racing in the region is on an upward trend.
With Wagga’s new track on the horizons, smaller clubs in the Riverina have raised concerns they will be minimised or closed in preference to racing at Wagga.
However this has been refuted by Dumesny.
“They were all very supportive of the new Wagga track and the main message we got out to them was that we are not about closing tracks down,” he said.
“We are here to help even if it sounds a Big Brother-ish type situation.
“Whilst ever they are financially viable and have a will to operation, we will support them.”
Providing smaller clubs with more race meetings was ruled out, with the current horse population deemed not enough to sustain any increase.
It’s the first time the board has engaged in practice of coming to regional areas but Dumesny thought the travel was worthwhile.
“Previously what occurred is that all clubs would be invited down to meet with the board but once you did the cycle it was three years between visits,” he said.
“Once I came along I though we really should be going out to each of the regional centres, meeting with all the clubs and as many of the committee that want to talk to us and just chat away.”
After a number of programming changes were introduced a year ago, chairman Rex Horne has been impressed by the improvements in the region.
Starters per race at Wagga have increased from 8.79 to 9.3 in the last 12 months, prizemomey has increased by $238,000 to $1,1716,000 with the average prizemoney per race increased by $443.
Most importantly turnover has increased by 4.9 per cent in the last 12 months.
A number of clubs raised issues regarding their own with many met favourably.
Temora want to alter the ladies change rooms, Junee is looking to level their track while Cootamundra want to fix a soft spot on their track.
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