All bets off on Towong grandstand

COUNTRY Racing Victoria cannot guarantee funding will be forthcoming for the work needed to repair Towong Turf Club’s 107-year-old grandstand.

The organisation’s chief executive Scott Whiteman confirmed the funding request had been received and also included a commitment of financial backing from Towong Council.

The grandstand has been out of action for the club’s past two meetings, including the Towong Cup early last month, with the repair job estimated to be valued at $180,000.

Mr Whiteman said support was being sourced from the Victorian racing infrastructure fund, but conceded Towong faced stiff competition from other clubs which held more meetings.

Towong Council discussed the grandstand funding in a confidential section of its meeting last week.

“One of the issues is there are 68 country clubs in Victoria and there are limited funds available for infrastructure,” Mr Whiteman said.

“We have our own marquee business and gone away from repairing, rebuilding or building traditional grandstands due to the fact some places only race once or twice a year.

“It is an interesting one.

“There is no guarantee, but we are not opposed and it is all about striking a balance.”

The grandstand, the oldest remaining of its kind in the state, was built more than a century ago.

But it has fallen victim to major floods in the Upper Murray in recent years with the track located on a floodplain.

Major structural damage to the base of internal timber columns was discovered when a renovation job on the function area beneath the grandstand began late last year.

Two years ago the club was the recipient of $50,000 of industry and government funding to repair the track following flood damage.

Horse racing has been held at the track since 1871 and the grandstand was built in 1907.

Repair works to the function area were among a list of projects which attracted a $243,000 state government grant in May last year.

The racecourse was maintained by Racing Victoria until the late 1990s when the council became responsible.

Towong had its second meeting reinstated in 2011 after being cut back to one in 2007.

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