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Woeful fields, prizemoney at Warrnambool Oaks Day farceVideo

A field of five contents race two at Warrnambool yesterday.IT’S the second-biggest social day on the racing calendar but Warrnambool’s Oaks Day meeting yesterday was a farce with only 37 horses taking to the track.
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Organisers, owners and trainers were fuming about the lack of racing action, which they blamed on a 50 per cent cut in prizemoney.

Each of the six races carried a total of $8000 — almost half the industry minimum for a TAB status event. One race had to be deleted from the program because of insufficient runners.

Prizemoney was slashed after the 2012 Oaks Day meeting but the impact was only felt by participants yesterday after last year’s event was called off because a drainage problem caused a hole to open up in the track.

Warrnambool Racing Club chairman Des Roberts, who has been fighting the cut, labelled Racing Victoria’s decision an outrage.

“It’s been ongoing with RVL and Country Racing Victoria but it falls on deaf ears,” Roberts said.

“They’ve changed it to an event day and they don’t consider the horse side of things very important.

“They are really saying you should hold a phantom meeting — no horses.”

Roberts, who spent most of yesterday’s meeting copping abuse from owners, trainers and punters, said the club had worked hard to develop the day into a social event but Racing Victoria, which made a profit of $18.4 million last financial year, was responsible for stakemoney.

“We tick every box, the only thing we don’t is prizemoney and horses,” he said.

“Ownership of horses in the 3280 postcode is the biggest in the state. The people of Warrnambool and the Western District love a good time but they love good racing.

“The Warrnambool Racing Club Oaks Day prizemoney of $8000 (per race) is a total disgrace to the racing industry as well as an insult to the Warrnambool Racing Club committee who gladly give their time for nothing to promote racing.

“The Western District is up in arms with this. This is a disgrace to racing in the Western District.”

Roberts said Warrnambool’s meeting was the only one in Victoria yesterday outside Flemington and attracted more than 1500 people.

Ballarat assistant trainer and racehorse owner Steven Cunningham angrily told Roberts what he thought of the race meeting in a conversation inside the club’s committee room.

Roberts said his comments reflected those of many directed towards him yesterday.

Cunningham’s stables were responsible for more than 10 per cent of yesterday’s runners.

“It’s embarrassing to the turf club, a disgrace, an insult to us owners,” Cunningham said.

“There is no way anyone can justify what they have done here. You are running on one of the best tracks in country Victoria for no money. It’s an embarrassment. It’s just a f…ing disgrace.”

He said owners were “pretty adamant” they didn’t want their horses to run for such paltry stakes, including those who had a winner yesterday. He said owners with his stable had emailed and called RVL.

“For people in RVL to say this is just a function day, I can assure them that I have better things to do than tow four horses down here to support this meeting. I don’t consider that a fun day out,” Cunningham said.

“For them to say this is a fun day, I would like one of them people in RVL to come and sit beside me. I’ve been up since 4am and I won’t get home until 8.30pm.”

Racing Victoria racing operations manger Paul Bloodworth said prizemoney had been cut because the meeting was a low-wagering event.

“I can understand Warr-nambool’s concerns,” Blood-worth said.

“It’s the second year that the races have been worth $8000 each. We decided to cut the stakemoney for the day because traditionally there has not been much wagering on the meeting. We did the same thing for the Echuca meeting on Melbourne Cup Day.

“We will be doing a full review of the Warrnambool meeting in the near future. Whether there is a lift in the prizemoney for next year I’m not sure until it’s all been reviewed.”

This story Administrator ready to work first appeared on Nanjing Night Net.

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