Day At The Track

First track to race at restored prize money levels

05:29 PM 28 Jun 2020 NZST
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Bathurst Harness Racing Club
Bathurst will be the first track in the state to race with restored prizemoney, which comes into effect from July 1
Phil Blatch Photo

Owners and trainers were unsure how long prizemoney cuts across the NSW harness racing industry would stay in place, due to uncertainty around COVID-19, but there's good news on the horizon.

Bathurst's upcoming Wednesday meeting will be the first in the state to see prizemoney restored to pre-COVID levels after Harness Racing NSW announced they would roll back a 20 per cent statewide cut.

From July 1 base prizemoney for category A and B meeting races will be restored to $6,500 and $6,000 respectively.

HRNSW took the decision on May 11 to reduce prizemoney but will be the first harness racing jurisdiction to return base prizemoney.

Bathurst Harness Racing Club CEO Danny Dwyer said it's been a challenging period for connections but is hopeful it's only good news to come from this point on.

"It's been a tough six weeks with the reduced prizemoney, trying to keep everyone happy within the industry," he said.

"Most were still just happy to be racing but the prizemoney is the be all and end all so it's great having it back to where it was. Hopefully we can move forward from here."

Those six weeks might have felt long to many in the industry but there were signs that it could have been a longer wait.

"Early indications were, that with the reduction in TAB turnover, it could have been something which stayed in place for another six months," Dwyer said.

"Things have turned around fairly quickly and it's a great boost for everyone to get it back so quickly.

"I think a few horses did go out of work once the prizemoney levels dropped. I know ours nominations dropped from high 120s down into the 80s and 90s. Going into the start of a new racing season this might get a few horses back into work."

Harness Racing NSW Chief Executive John Dumesny said there's still some time to go before everything can run at full capacity once again.

This might get a few horses back into work.

Danny Dwyer

"Since April the participants in our industry have had to endure the restrictions of regionalisation and then from mid-May reduced prizemoney due to the ramifications of the COVID-19 pandemic" he said.

"Initial advices from our major wagering revenue provider Tabcorp in late March when their outlets were closed were alarming and drastic as we were told our revenue could be up to 50 per cent down on budget.

"A raft of other austerity measures including significant cuts to HRNSW operations have been adopted and these will remain in place until such time as wagering revenue trends are proven to be improved."

Bathurst's eight-race Wednesday meeting will see all races carry $6,630 in prizemoney.

Alexander Grant

Reprinted with permissin of The Western Advocate

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