Local racing clubs seek to recover lost revenue

By Daniel Hughes

The Deniliquin and Tocumwal Racing Clubs have made an application for compensation, to replace revenue lost on events cancelled as a result of Coronavirus restrictions.

The Deniliquin Racing Club was forced to cancel its Anzac Day race meet after public events were put on lockdown in mid-March.

Its October event is also now at risk, with a proposed change to the Spring Racing Carnival timetable potentially affecting its Caulfield Cup Day meet.

It is also still unclear if crowds big enough to make the event profitable will be allowed by the time it can be held.

Similarly, the Tocumwal Racing Club was forced to cancel its Easter Saturday event this year due to restrictions.

‘‘The Deniliquin and Tocumwal racing clubs have put a combined proposal to Southern District Racing regarding compensation, and we are still awaiting a response,’’ Deniliquin Racing Club president Russell Douglas said.

‘‘We’re the only two in our region that have really been affected by restrictions so far.

‘‘Deniliquin’s Anzac Day meet is usually a break even event, but we had been waiting for a long time for Anzac Day to fall on a Saturday.

‘‘Ours was to be the only regional meet on that day, and we were expecting larger than normal crowds to come from all over the region.

‘‘Tocumwal’s Easter event usually takes a large gate, and it would have been a great event to celebrate the club being in operation for 150 years this year.’’

Douglas said the club is still in a holding pattern regarding the Deniliquin Caulfield Cup Day meet this year, which he says is the club’s biggest earner.

He said it generates $100,000 in revenue each year, on average.

The October meet was originally scheduled for October 17, to coincide with Caulfield Cup Day.

Now a date change has been proposed for the Melbourne race day, so the impact on regional events held the same day is unknown.

Melbourne Racing Club has proposed the change due to Coronavirus restrictions, possibly to as late as November 28, and to avoid clashes with the delayed AFL finals series.

Douglas said the Deniliquin Racing Club met Sunday to discuss all possible scenarios and how the club would respond.

But he said until Melbourne Racing Club makes a decision, nothing can be put in to action.

He said it could be another two or three weeks before a decision is made.

‘‘I believe the decision will be announced in the next fortnight or so, as regional racing centres have to line their meetings with the Caulfield Cup as well.’’

Douglas said one of the scenarios discussed is hosting a meeting later this year, without spectators.

He said this would place greater financial stress on the club, which is already facing greater costs to meet new social guidelines resulting from Coronavirus.

‘‘We know for sure that it’s not going to be same (whenever we can hold the event),’’ Douglas said.

‘‘We will have to adjust the marquee set up and increase health methods of extra sanitation.

‘‘We will have to make these precautions with a crowd or no crowd.

‘‘Clubs like Albury and Wagga Wagga have full-time staff and big sponsors to help transition into the future.

‘‘The hardest thing for us and other smaller clubs is the cost for the health additions. 

‘‘We are a voluntary run club, so that extra financial burden is hard to absorb.’’