Beach closures have trainers worried

Warrnambool trainers may need to compromise after having access to beaches in the area restricted.

Horses will be banned from working on two of the beaches during the summer months while horse numbers will be restricted at other locations.

Jane Baker, secretary of the South West Owners, Trainers and Riders Association, says local trainers are yet to fully understand how the new restrictions, effective December 1, will work.

She said a meeting on Thursday with Warrnambool Racing Club (WRC) chief executive Peter Downs may help them better understand the situation.

Baker said the only information she had to work with was a Victoria government media release last week which outlined the closure of the beaches and said a licence would be issued to the WRC which in turn would issue permits to individual trainers.

“Obviously there’s not going to be enough to cover the trainers and the horses that we have here currently,” Baker told RSN927.

“There will have to be some sacrifices. Not everybody will get what they apply for.”

She said indications were 50 horses per day would be allowed access to beach training, a 50 per cent reduction.

Those trainers who miss out on permits will need to find alternative training methods.

Group One-winning trainers Ciaron Maher and Darren Weir are among the trainers who use the beaches.

A $600,000 grant has been given to the WRC to build a $1.2 million sand fibre training track although work is yet to commence.

Baker said there were a number of trainers with less than six horses in work in the Warrnambool area and she was not sure whether they would be able to access the beach, or use it every second day.

And she is worried the restrictions may force up unemployment in the Warrnambool area.

“If some trainers reduce their numbers and there’s less horses in work that means jobs may have to go,” she said.

“Warrnambool already has a high rate of unemployment.

“I certainly don’t want to have to tell my staff there is no work for them.”

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