RACING NSW chairman John Messara has revealed plans to increase minimum prizemoney levels for country racing to $20,000.
Mr Messara, the guest speaker at the Albury Gold Cup launch at the Commercial Club yesterday, said the Racing NSW board recognised the importance of grassroots racing and the increase to $20,000 could happen within the next 12 months.
“I don’t want us to take another five years to do that,” he said.
“Country racing is going to become very buoyant I can tell you.
“I understand the importance of bush and country racing.
“It is not only a nursery of racehorses, but the country also produces a lot of individuals who become top jockeys and trainers.
“We can’t do without the country and need to make sure country racing is sustainable.”
A landmark court case win against the corporate bookmakers almost a year ago saw country prizemoney jump to $15,000.
In a further boost, Mr Messara said Racing NSW was looking to introduce feature race meetings at leading country clubs around the state, including Albury, worth up to $40,000.
Mr Messara attended the Gold Cup meeting last year for the first time and is locked in to return on March 22.
The Commercial Club is sponsoring the feature race for the sixth successive year with yesterday’s launch attended by 230 people including Albury mayor Alice Glachan.
“I was knocked out by the atmosphere on the day and it is a feature on the country circuit without question,” Mr Messara said.
“I was knocked out by the engagement of the city of Albury in it.
“We try to do that right through NSW and managed it in a few places. Orange is somewhere we’ve got a similar thing going.”
Mr Messara said Albury could be in line for a major infrastructure upgrade in the second round of funding from the court case ruling.
Racing NSW had appointed a project manager to oversee all business cases from clubs wanting upgrades and the second round would be announced within six months.
“It is a once in a generation windfall and we want to ensure there is no wastage,” he said.