Not horsing around: trainers' frustration obvious during regional visit

THE NSW Trainers Association chief executive admits he was met with frustration from the region’s trainers after touring the central west last week.

Steve McMahon travelled through Orange, Bathurst and Mudgee before arriving in Dubbo and attending a meeting with the Central West representative of the association, Pat Finn, as well as trainers from around the area, and despite the pain he felt from locals, he is confident things will improve for racing in the bush.

“It’s not all doom and gloom, we’re continuing to talk with Racing NSW about improving prize money and infrastructure and there is light at the end of the tunnel, but it’s frustrating because it takes times,” McMahon said.

“The biggest thing to come out of last week was the feeling of frustration among the trainers because it’s not happening as quickly as it seems to in the city.”

Racing in the central west has been through a fairly turbulent time in recent months with weather and track issues forcing a number of meetings to be cancelled at Dubbo, Orange and Bathurst and McMahon said he spoke at length about those issues.

“It was positive but the thing is racing in the bush is becoming more difficult because of costs and the fact we see a lot of money spent in the city and we want to see money spent here,” he said.

“One of the two big things we spoke about was quality of infrastructure because there’s been issues in Bathurst and Dubbo recently with the quality of the tracks and we want to do everything wee can to get them up to standard and we’re lobbying Racing NSW, racing clubs, and the Minister.”

McMahon welcomed the news local member for Dubbo, Troy Grant, had been named as Minister for Racing and said he was left impressed after meetings with Grant in the past.

“The NSW Trainers Association sat with some MPs last year and Troy was one of those and he was most accommodating and very understanding of the issues, so we’re very pleased with the news,” McMahon said.

The other big talking point to come from the meeting last week was in relation to programming and the fact local trainers have to travel so far to attend meetings, especially when meetings in their own backyard have been cancelled.

“There’s been some issues and we want it improved,” he said. 

“For a trainer in Dubbo it takes a lot to just travel to Muswellbrook. It’s easy to say there’s plenty of country meetings but trainers have to travel quite a way.”

With a review of the Thoroughbred Racing Act held recently, McMahon said he and his association were pushing for an industry representative on the board of Racing NSW and after the huge success of the recent Championships of Racing, he said he would love to see country trainers and horses get the chance to be involved.

“We believe the new Championships are great but the country should be included in it,” he said.

“There should be a special race just for country horses so they can engage in some of the prize money.”

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