It will be a major shock if Western Australia doesn’t “win” the next three-year hosting rights for the harness racing Inter Dominion Series.
Although bids have not yet closed and other jurisdictions are sure to have a crack, it is understood that there are a number of exciting ingredients to the WA bid – made jointly by Racing and Wagering WA (RWWA) and Gloucester Park.
Bidding for the 2016-18 hosting rights closes with the Inter Dominion Event Committee on July 21.
Although tight-lipped over many of the details, RWWA manager of harness racing Barry Hamilton declared: “GPHR (Gloucester Park) and RWWA will be making a bold and audacious bid to host the 2016-18 Inter Dominions.
“While not prepared to detail the full amount proposed, we can say that if we are successful in this bid, the Inter Dominions will become the most prestigious pacing race in the world.”
It is believed the bid includes making the Inter Dominion final the richest pacing race in the world, which would mean a final with well over a $1 million purse.
And, in a move sure to be popular in many quarters, WA would return immediately to a traditional Inter Dominion format of three rounds of qualifying heats into a Grand Final.
It will be interesting to see whether that involves running at least one round of the heats at a regional track, with Pinjarra being the most obvious option.
“We are in a unique and exciting position to relaunch, re-energise and revitalise harness racing in this state through a successful Inter Dominion bid and look forward to the Inter Dominions returning to the traditional and preferred format and back to its ‘glory days’,” Hamilton said.
Clearly WA’s bid is about both promoting the Inter Dominion and “spicing-up” harness racing in the state.
“The RWWA board have already approved funding for each of the three years of the tender outside the normal distribution, there will also be significant capital infrastructure improvements across three venues, potentially in excess of $5 million should WA become the successful bidder,” Hamilton said.
“Gloucester Park’s credentials are second to none and the new partnership with RWWA to conduct this event will make it even more successful than 2012 (in Perth), which is already heralded as the best Inter ever run.”
Gloucester Park CEO Michael Radley underlined the long term investment the bid involved.
He even hinted at a wish for Perth to become the permanent home of the Inter Dominion.
“This is not just about holding an Inter Dominion at Gloucester Park, this is about stimulating harness racing in WA and making sure there is a trickle down effect for the industry, especially grass roots,” he said.
“We have been overwhelmed by the encouragement we have received from all facets of the industry as well as initial support from the government and our corporate partners.
“RWWA has been incredibly enthusiastic about the Inter Dominion’s returning to WA and their ability to garner government and industry support has made it possible to structure a bid which we believes will be almost unbeatable.
“2012 was highly successful and that will provide the basis for this Inter Dominion tender, however we have identified areas where we can make 2016-18 even better.”
Harness Racing Australia CEO Andrew Kelly said he expected a “very competitive” bidding process.
“It’s only the second time we’ve had this strategy (of bidding for three-year hosting rights) and it’s worked,” he said. “There’s no question this will be a lot more competitive than the first time when NSW was basically on its own.
“When you think about it, it makes sense. It breeds competition and also gives bidders the chance to build infrastructure with the certainty of three years hosting the Inter Dominion compared to just being allocated it once every eight years.”
By Adam Hamilton
Courtesy of Harness Racing New Zealand