Wangaratta Turf Club receives government funding boost

The Wangaratta Turf Club will become one of the state’s best racing facilities after major redevelopment. Picture:

THE Wangaratta Turf Club (WTC) is set to become one of the best country tracks in Victoria after the announcement of a $6.2 million redevelopment to improve education for students and provide better facilities to racegoers.

The WTC vision has been given federal backing too after the government declared it would contribute $2.4 million to the cause, which means the redevelopments will commence within the coming weeks.

The upgrade includes a clearer entrance to the racecourse, accommodation that includes 20 beds, allowing students to reside and study on the site, new stables separate from the public and a new grandstand, which will also serve as a function and equine learning centre.

The new grandstand will be the long-overdue replacement for the structure that was pulled down over two years ago.

Senator Bridget McKenzie declared the WTC new endeavour will be a “world-class project”, and placed the old enemy across the border on notice.

“There is currently a critical shortage in the racing industry and I applaud the Wangaratta Turf Club for putting a pilot program together as part of an education scheme to train more industry staff, including track riders and stable hands,” she said.

“NSW Racing watch out – we’re coming, because we’re going to be developing a fantastic workforce right here locally in the regions, training great horses.”

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Senator McKenzie went on to say the upgrades to the WTC will help bring stability to a sometimes-volatile industry.

“The racing industry here in regional Victoria is going strong, but we want to make sure it’s sustainable going forward.”

The news that the federal government will be footing over a third of the bill was welcome news to the region, which is considered one of the primary rural breeding grounds for horses, trainers and jockeys.

Wangaratta Turf Club chief executive Paul Hoysted said the announcement kicks off an exciting 12 months for the racecourse, which he described as unprecedented.

“This (development) is the first one for regional Victoria and this is the first one for regional Australia,” he said.

There’s one group in Melbourne which is doing some training, but not to the degree that we’ll be doing it here by being able to offer people the opportunity to be on course with their stabling and accommodation, so they can live and learn in the one location.”

Hoysted believes the track record for the club and regional Victoria speaks for itself, but the new improvements will help elevate an already strong area into an upper echelon talent breeding ground.

“Makybe Diva had her first win here at Wangaratta, so champion race horses can come from regional Victoria and from Wangaratta.”

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