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Lowering Owners' Costs A Must

Oct 10, 2016

Recent news announcing prizemoney increases across NSW metropolitan, provincial, and country race meetings including a boost to various incentive schemes such as BOBS, is a big win for owners, trainers and jockeys.

Never has there been a better time to race horses in the state. We now have even more riches to chase in addition to The Championships 2-Day Autumn Carnival at Randwick where almost $19.5 million is on offer across 18 races.

It’s a great step in the right direction which from October 1 onwards see connections racing for $100,000 (up from $80,000) at a Saturday metropolitan meeting, $30,000 (up from $22,000) at a provincial meeting and $20,000 (up from $15,000) at a country TAB meeting. If your horse can win a Saturday metropolitan race it pays for their whole year in training.

While these prizemoney increases are terrific, I’m a big believer of lower the costs of training for ALL racehorse owners, so it’s not just the first few placegetters who benefit from lucrative prizemoney.

The reality is that most trainers and owners need some relief from the financial burden and risk of competing in the horseracing industry. It’s a tough game to exist in, and if you’re not mentally tough enough, smart enough or shrewd enough to train horses, operate your own business, and attract and keep quality staff then you won’t survive long. And that’s not taking in to account the need for supportive owners and horses with ability to get the financial returns. At Snowden Racing, we’re lucky to have a fantastic and wide-ranging owner base with quality bloodstock, so we’re extremely fortunate.

I’d personally like the industry to consider lowering various training costs and even invest in other areas of the industry to allow more owners and stables to benefit, not just those in the winners’ circle.

For what it’s worth, here’s my wish list for the future to help lower owner costs:

Lowering the cost of stable rent

Whether you’re at Randwick or elsewhere, renting a stable is a huge expense. And that’s not counting the amount of additional enhancements and investments which are often made by the trainer to improve facilities such as installing mist sprinklers in boxes, hay sheds, landscape gardening, stable re-flooring, or improving office administration blocks.

Lowering the cost of fees for acceptances, trials and scratchings without a vet certificate

I accept a small administration fee is required for these activities but it would be ideal to see them lowered. Quite often we’ll need to nominate and accept with horses at different venues not knowing if the track conditions are going to be suitable for that horse.

Sure the scratching fee is waivered if you provide a veterinary certificate, but to get a vet to visit your horse and provide a certificate costs anywhere up to $250 so either way you’re financially penalised, usually because you’re trying to pick the most suitable race to contest under tricky track or weather conditions.

Unless it’s your home track, getting a horse to an official trial is a seriously expensive exercise once you calculate the transport costs, strapper, rider and insurance before you even trial.

Introduction of weekly ‘jump outs’ hosted at Randwick

Slightly off topic but indirectly related, I’d very much like to see weekly jump outs at Randwick as they would be a terrific benefit to stables and owners. To my eye, one jump out is worth about three gallops so the benefits are enormous as far as fitness goes.

If punters and owners want jump outs filmed, the industry should be able to find a resource to do this and upload to that club’s website. Melbourne racing clubs manage to do this effectively without audio or horses carrying official race colours, so we should be able to adapt as well.

Obviously race winners and minor placegetters must be rewarded and increased prizemoney will always be welcomed, but there’s more than one way to slice the pie when it comes to alleviating costs for owners and making racing more attractive.

Words: Peter Snowden Image courtesy: Bradley Photographers

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