On Thursday 20 December Racing and Wagering Western Australia (RWWA) announced funding for a number of capital projects across WA for thoroughbreds. The highlight of these announcements is the $17M committed to track upgrades at Bunbury.
The upgrades at Bunbury include:
- New Course Proper (All-weather Turf) – 20m wide
- New Training Track (Sand/Fibre) – 17m wide
- New Drainage across both tracks
- New Irrigation System across all tracks (including the realigned jog track)
- New Horse Stalls
There are no planned upgrades for the grandstand or customer facilities in this round of works; this project is exclusively for upgrading racing infrastructure at the Bunbury Turf Club.
Where are we at right now?
We are currently in consultation with RWWA and an independent racetrack design engineer has been engaged to prepare the project scope and tender documents before going to market.
Planning for next season
The draft race dates for 2019/20 have allocated the Bunbury Turf Club 21 race meetings between October 2019 and April 2020, which is business as usual.
Because of the significant drainage works and their importance to the entire project, the perfect time to commence would be in early 2020, when the water table is at its lowest level. We envisage that our next update (mid-year) will include defined timelines around project start dates. This timing will ensure the best project delivery back to participants.
What happens when we do turn over the first sod of turf?
When we commence the upgrades there will be no race meeting at Bunbury for at least 12 months. We currently only race 6 months a year, so we essentially lose a season of racing at Bunbury.
The training facilities for participants at Bunbury will be unavailable for at least 6 months of the project. We are working with RWWA around strategies to minimise the interruption to trainers and their livelihoods.
What happens when we return to racing?
The shutdown will be tough on local trainers but the end result will ensure their future long-term in racing at Bunbury. The track redevelopment will allow us to provide year-round racing at Bunbury. The upgraded training track will provide a safe consistent surface all year round for local participants and will have the ability to host barrier trials and jump-outs.
Local trainers will have race meeting being spread more evenly throughout the year and the perceived disadvantage of being a Bunbury trainer will be diminished. The track will have a capacity for 35 race meetings a year but in the short to medium term the club will continue to race 21 times a year.
This project will be a shot of confidence for the entire industry and will ensure we retain current participants and be a strong alternative for those considering relocation. Just as importantly, this project will offer an attractive proposition for new entrants to start their careers in racing.