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Clarken Racing | Clarken Racing News 55791 It Was Getting Hard A Couple Of Months Ago So I Am Glad To See The Change

‘It was getting hard a couple of months ago, so I am glad to see the change’

‘It was getting hard a couple of months ago, so I am glad to see the change’
Racing in South Australia yesterday received a long-awaited and immediate boost to prize-money levels, an injection participants hope is one of many steps in the right direction for the thoroughbred industry. The prize-money pool will go up by $7.4 million, from $48 million to $55.4 million per year, after peak body Racing SA reached a deal with the state government to receive a higher percentage of the point of consumption tax receipts generated by South Australian punters.

Group 1-winning trainer Will Clarken, a heavy investor in his local racing industry, is one participant who hopes the prize-money increases are just the start of the reinvigoration of the sport in South Australia. “Racing SA, I know for a fact, have been working very hard to get the government’s support. We still need more, but it’s a good start,” Clarken told ANZ Bloodstock News yesterday. 

“I have had a couple of opportunities and support from interstate owners who wanted me to leave [Adelaide], but I have chosen to stay here because it’s my home and I’ve got family here. “I have got a farm that I have put my heart and soul into. It was getting hard a couple of months ago, and it was getting quite depressing, so I am glad to see the change. Although it’s only a little [increase], it makes a big difference.”

Under the changes, which come into effect from the July 15 Morphettville race meeting, Metropolitan Tier 1 races will increase from $55,000 to $65,000 while Metro Tier 2 races also jump $10,000 to $55,000. Tier 3 Metro races will increase from $41,000 to $50,000. Provincial races will increase from $22,000 to between $23,000 (Outer Provincial) and $25,000 (Inner Provincial) per race across the state, while country races will be lifted from $17,000 to $19,500, and country cups will see a lift of $8,000 to $40,000. Non-TAB races, including cups, will increase by $2,000 across the board. South Australia’s stakes races will also receive a prize-money injection. The Robert Sangster Stakes (Gr 1, 1200m) and The Goodwood (Gr 1, 1200m) will increase to $600,000 and the Adelaide Cup (Gr 2, 3200m) will go from $300,000 to $350,000. All other Group 2 races will jump from $202,250 to $250,000 next season, Group 3s will race for a minimum of $150,000 (up from $127,250) while Listed races will be worth a minimum of $120,000, up from $107,250.

Willow Grove Stud’s Ralph Satchell, whose twice Group 1-placed Leon Macdonald and Andrew Gluyas-trained homebred mare Another Award (Shamus Award) goes under the digital hammer through Inglis tomorrow, welcomed the prizemoney increases. “Forty years ago, if you won a race in town you were paying your training fees for the best part of the year, so if you had a city winner, you were in business. Obviously, that ratio has changed,” Satchell said yesterday. “You need more than a city winner [in SA] with a horse once a year to pay its way, but the increases will go a long way. “A lot of the owners who buy our horses are reinvestors, so the more money they’ve got to have another go, then it all just flows onto the breeding [industry] as well as the racing.”

Adrian Hancock, Magic Millions’ South Australian representative, said the prize-money increases were desperately needed in order for the state’s racing industry to stay competitive against larger jurisdictions. “It would be nice to have a million dollar race or two in South Australia but, in saying that, I thought our fields were very strong this year considering, the Sangster particularly, was one of the better Group 1s of the year, I thought, on paper and the way it was run,” Hancock said. “But the grassroots is vital to every sport and racing’s no different. We will take the increases where we can get it and I think spreading it around has been a good decision.”

While owners and trainers will benefit from the $7.4 million boost, Hancock echoed Satchell’s position, suggesting that the extra prize-money could help encourage South Australia-based breeders to reinvest in new mares. “Prize-money is the be-all and end-all of the industry. It filters all the way down to the breeders and they need yearling results to reinvest back into the industry and these past few years that’s been lacking in South Australia, I’d say, because they haven’t got the funds to be competitive in investing in new mares,” Hancock said. “The breeding situation and people who want to come into breeding need incentives to do that and prize-money is always the answer and certainly it’s going to help, for sure.”

The rising costs of running a stable have been exacerbated by the inferior prize-money in South Australia, according to Clarken. “Running costs for stables are pretty similar [across Australia], so we definitely had to have an increase and it’s great, positive news for us as trainers to be able to go to our owners with,” he said. “I think all stables have had a bit of a slow up as far as selling shares in horses go and the market’s come back a little bit, so it’s good to be able to go to people and give them some good news that might activate a bit more interest.”

Racing SA had been lobbying the state government for a bigger share of point of consumption tax revenue, with premier Peter Malinauskas’s cabinet agreeing to double the industry’s take from ten per cent to 20 per cent of the gambling tax received by the government. “We have made a lot of progress in our aim to create a strong, vibrant and sustainable industry over the last few years and the ability to make these increases is that next, extremely important step.” Racing SA chair Rob Rorrison said in a statement yesterday.

“The increase has been made possible through a combination of positive financial results in recent years and the increase in the return to the industry, from ten per cent to 20 per cent, of the POC tax announced by the SA government in their budget. “Prize-money is the lifeblood of the industry and being able to announce a sustainable increase of this nature will ensure our SA participants will be in a position to continue to grow their businesses.” The halcyon days of South Australian racing, when Cummings and Hayes et al were big names in Adelaide, may not return but Clarken is optimistic. He said: “I think our state can reach a better place because we have lost our way and we are becoming insignificant, but [this is a step in] getting it back to its former glory.”

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