Racing NSW was forced to make the hard decision on Sunday to reduce prizemoney across all metropolitan and country meetings until at least June 30.
As of Sunday, NSW races of $100,000 and above will be reduced by 20%, subject to some selected feature races on Saturday metropolitan race meetings.
Additionally, prizemoney for NSW races between $25,000 and $100,000 will be reduced by 10% and minimum prizemoney for country TAB race meetings will be reduced from $22,000 to $20,000.
In a statement released early Sunday morning, Racing NSW justified the decision, shining the light on the impact of the Covid-19 pandemic and the subsequent lower TAB turnover due to the closure of pubs and clubs.
“As the main source of funding for prizemoney, which is wagering, continues to be severely impacted by the current lockdowns of pubs, clubs and TAB retail agencies, Racing NSW has determined that prizemoney reductions need to be introduced until 30 June 2020,” the statement read.
“The reduction in funding from wagering is compounded by other sources of funding for NSW race clubs, being on-course attendances, catering revenue and sponsorship, becoming non-existent given the public is not permitted to attend race meetings.”
Racing NSW reminded participants that these reductions in prizemoney did not cover the overall losses but they were happy to wear the cost for the racing industry to continue.
“The reduction in prizemoney does not cover the revenue losses, so some meetings will be run at a loss,” the statement read.
“Accordingly, Racing NSW will absorb the losses from its future fund and also provide further funding to NSW race clubs from Racing NSW’s cash reserves to sustain those race clubs while the industry faces the uncertainty and challenges presented by the coronavirus pandemic.”
In a decision that should please grass roots participants, there was no reduction in prizemoney announced for picnic, community and Sky 2 meetings, with Racing NSW happy to bear the brunt of this cost.
This decision will offer participants a chance to race, albeit in a limited capacity, as the Covid-19 crisis ravishes Australia and the world.
Racing NSW Country deputy chairman Michael Inglis acknowledged it was never good to see prizemoney cuts but believes the changes were imperative for racing to continue.
“The reductions were necessary and made after careful consideration,” Mr Inglis said.
“These decisions were made to keep the industry economically viable and we just have to do a bit of belt-tightening across the board.”
Mr Inglis stressed the significance of community and picnic race clubs not being impacted by this announcement.
“It is significant that there has been no reduction in prizemoney for picnic and non-TAB race meetings, which is good news for race clubs in the Southern District Racing Association,” Mr Inglis said.
The SDRA is home to the largest number of community race clubs in NSW and any impact on prizemoney could have been detrimental to the region and smaller clubs.
Tumut Turf Club, one of the SDRA’s more active clubs, hosts three community meetings and one TAB Sky 2 meeting a year, and will not be impacted if these prizemoney decreases continue on past June 30.
TTC president Dave Rosetta was happy that Tumut would not be impacted but did feel for clubs who were taking a hit because of Covid-19.
“It is definitely good for us, but in saying that, we are all in this together,” Mr Rosetta said.
“If we suffer a bit of pain from that, so be it, but I am hopeful we will see this through before our racing season commences.”
Mr Rosetta reiterated Tumut Turf Club’s position on racing, even if that meant not having a crowd in attendance.
“If we are still in this position when we are due to race, we hope we can still race,” Mr Rosetta said.
“I would be keen to continue to race, even if we can’t have the crowds, we need to race to offer those horses that are non-TAB class and their owners and trainers a chance to make some money.”
Time will only tell how long these prizemoney cuts stay in place and if community and picnic meetings will still be protected after June