Racing NSW package targets horse welfare

Racing NSW will put aside $2 million for a horse welfare program to be funded by a levy on a new prizemoney package that was announced on Tuesday.

BIG BOOST: Races at Kembla Grange will get a prizemoney injection from October 1. Picture: GEORGIA MATTS

BIG BOOST: Races at Kembla Grange will get a prizemoney injection from October 1. Picture: GEORGIA MATTS

The fully funded sustainable package in conjunction with the Australian Turf Club, includes taking Saturday Sydney prizemoney to a minimum of $100,000 a race, provincial prizemoney to a $30,000 minimum a race, and a lift in feature race stakes across the state from October 1.

The package will draw on more than $18 million in additional income from a revised Race Fields fee schedule, the digital rights to racing in NSW sold to bookmaker William Hill and tax parity.

However in a sign of the times, Racing NSW reacted to the state government shutting down the greyhound industry by putting aside 1 per cent of the $204 million in prizemoney to look after horse welfare.

Racing NSW will form a new department, including vets and staff to retrain racehorses and place them within the horse community beyond their time on the track.

Its role will be to establish partnerships with riding schools, pony clubs and other equestrian organisations to promote re-homing of thoroughbreds.

"I believe that thoroughbred horses are one of the best looked after and cared for breed of animals by their owners, and this program is just another initiative to continue the great work already being done," Racing NSW chief executive Peter V'landys said.

"We need to be aware of community standards and we are being proactive in making sure our horses are cared for throughout their lives. The first year there will be more than $2 million to start this initiative and the plan is to keep building it into the future."

Harness Racing NSW also announced a similar program for standardbred horses on Tuesday.

The welfare scheme was a centrepiece of a package that takes racing in NSW to a level beyond any other open jurisdiction in the world.

The benefits were spread across the three sections, metropolitan, provincial and country.

The Provincial Championships and Country Championship heats will go from $100,000 to $150,000, while there will be fortnightly $40,000 maidens on the provincial circuit and $40,000 maidens restricted to country-trained  horses at showcase meetings in the bush.

There will be 55 meetings in NSW, known as premium meetings where there is at least one $150,000 race, and seven premier meetings, containing a race of $1 million or more.

These meetings attract extra Race Fields fees, which is budgeted to bring in more than $10 million in extra revenue.

The ATC announced plans for an expanded night racing series and has the goal of putting lights in at Rosehill and Randwick in coming years.  

ATC chief executive Darren Pearce indicated the club would look to have a synthetic racing surface in Sydney, most likely at Warwick Farm.