Day At The Track

A significant employer, contributor to economy

02:43 AM 16 Jan 2021 NZDT
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Tasracing, harness racing
Tasracing

An editorial in this newspaper at the weekend (Racing's reputation on the line, Adv., Jan. 9) raised a number of issues that require a response on behalf of the industry.

The opinion piece posed questions about the community's support for racing going forward, and support for the Tasmanian government's annual financial contribution to its operations.

At the outset it is important to note that the North-West Coast community has a long association with the Tasmanian racing industry across all three codes.

Racing is an industry that touches virtually every region of the state and delivers economic flow-on across a very wide range of sectors.

In nearby Devonport there are 14 harness meetings and 52 greyhound meetings (plus trials) held at the Devonport Showgrounds every year. This racing activity at the showgrounds invests nearly $3 million into the North-West Coast economy.

Beyond Devonport, there are four harness meetings at Burnie and seven meetings on King Island for thoroughbred and harness racing. They are also great social and community events that bring their respective communities together.

The Ladbrokes Devonport Cup (the 100th Devonport Cup was run in 2018) is not only a significant day on the Tasmanian Summer racing calendar, but is an important social occasion on the North-West Coast.

Sadly, a horse trained by Spreyton-based Adam Trinder died of a suspected heart attack during the meeting.

The death was immediately labelled an animal welfare issue by some well-known industry critics.

Tasracing CEO Paul Eriksson

 Tasracing CEO Paul Eriksson

 

Both Tasracing and the broader racing industry understand it is critical that animal welfare measures meet community expectations and are in line with community values. Tasracing employs an animal welfare manager whose title is self-explanatory.

Every year significant amounts of money are invested across the industry to ensure the welfare of animals is protected.

In addition to programs for horses and greyhounds after their racing life, Tasracing is upgrading and improving racing facilities to improve the welfare of the animal during their racing career.

These include track renovations, upgraded surfaces in parade and mounting yard areas and stalls, upgrades to kennels, changes to racing equipment, improvements in maintenance and track management practices and improved welfare policies and procedures.

The welfare of all racing animals in Tasmania is a core priority for Tasracing. And Tasracing stands by its approach, which is as good as any racing jurisdiction in Australia.

And we want to appropriately debate the issue in the community.

While racing animals are high-performance athletes and their care, exercising and maintenance is a 24-hour, seven-day-a-week task, all industry participants are passionate about their sport and the animals in their care. No one could have predicted the unfortunate death of the horse.

As Adam Trinder wrote on his website after the Devonport Cup meeting: "It was a sombre day for the stable with one of our much-loved team members, Douglas, not making it back home to his box tonight."

While via Tasracing, racing in Tasmania costs nearly $50 million a year to run ($31 million of which is funded by the government via a funding deed), it is worth more than $100 million a year to the economy through activities including but not limited to animal breeding, veterinary services, food and beverage, retail and tourism.

The industry employs more than 2000 people directly with 5000 people employed or participating (particularly in rural and regional areas which are often impacted by higher unemployment levels).

Racing is an industry that touches virtually every region of the state and delivers economic flow-on across a very wide range of sectors.

The Tasmanian government is a strong supporter of the racing industry, and has recently committed to contributing $8 million over the next two years to underpin the development of new harness and greyhound racing facilities in the North-West.

Tasracing intends to build new race tracks for both the harness and greyhound codes.

The move away from the Devonport Showgrounds will allow for a proposed $75 million residential development to occur at the site providing a major economic boost to the city and the region more broadly.

Tasracing has started work on potential locations for new facilities, including looking at a tri-code facility at Spreyton.

Paul Eriksson is the chief executive officer of Tasracing

Reprinted with permission of The Advocate

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