The Racing Victoria vision — including the sale of Sandown, removal of trainers from Caulfield and Flemington, which would each have a second track and host night racing, and the creation of a training super centre to the city’s north — is largely to be funded by the “war chest”.
The MRC shares the vision to sell Sandown and eventually relocate Caulfield trainers and the VRC plans to add an extra track and remove the trainers as part of its own blueprint, which can proceed without a cash top-up from RV.
Moonee Valley Racing Club insists there will be no track closure, with chairman Don Casboult saying the RV report proposing it was “poorly constructed’’.
“We’ve been around for 133 years and have a proud and rich history and plans to become even greater,’’ Casboult said, referring to Moonee Valley’s plans to rebuild the track.
The stand-off between RV and the three city clubs threatens to destabilise not just the plans but the industry itself.
A special meeting scheduled at RV next Tuesday — where RV was to have proposed changes to its board member appointment process — was expected to bring the stoush to a head.
Club sources said the proposal to alter the appointment process, which would have reduced club votes, was a “power grab’’ from RV and would have sparked a vote of no confidence in the RV board from the city clubs.
The proposed amendment to the process is now unlikely to occur.
A recent meeting between the clubs and RV was described as “heated’’ — “and we got nowhere,’’ said one chief executive.
Racing Minister Martin Pakula said he was “aware’’ of the strained relationship between RV and the three clubs and said “they need to deal with issues like this in a mature way. Otherwise they invite a degree of Ministerial involvement that I’m sure they’d rather avoid.’’
One club CEO said the Racing Victoria millions should be split evenly three ways between the clubs, prizemoney and the future fund. Another said RV’s refusal to provide money from its coffers gave them no incentive to increase wagering “because we get no benefit.’’
Another said the city clubs are “bleeding’’ and run at a loss each year, adding external ventures such as the purchasing of pubs with poker machines were essential in remaining viable.
“All we are asking for is a fixed time frame to sort all of this out,’’ he said.
RV chairman David Moodie, who is the target of much of the anger from the three clubs, said the war chest was essential in protecting the industry from an uncertain funding future.
He said there are “dark cloud of uncertainty over funding that we have to protect ourselves against’’, referring to the declining revenue being raised via RV’s joint venture with the TAB as punters migrate to other betting options.
“It is incumbent on us as the regulator and governing body to plan for the future and that does not include four city tracks,’’ he said.
An RV source said the clubs were acting purely out of short term self-interest. “We’ve turned around a $50 million debt four years ago to a $50 million profit for the industry’s benefit — where’s the credit for that. All we hear is constant criticism,’’ the source said.
Trainers at Caulfield will be given notice five years before any plan to move them on but it is believed that notice will come in the next two or three years.
VRC chief executive Simon Love said the proposal to add an extra grass track — “one good enough to host Group 1 races’’ — could only occur if trainers had been relocated.
Moodie said Pakenham and Cranbourne could absorb trainers moved on from Caulfield and said a new training centre earmarked for just north of Melbourne, plus an upgrade at Ballarat, would house those based at Flemington.