With large financial losses during the level 3 and 4 lockdowns the announcement on May 15 of 10 thoroughbred racing tracks to close and the prospects of up to 10 more in the future came as no great surprise to the racing industry but a huge shock to those named.
Waipurau and Wairoa are among the first list of 10 which includes Avondale Racing Club in West Auckland but Woodville has so far survived the cut.
Those listed to close will not be issued licences to operate for the next season starting August 1. They have until June 15 to consult with the industry.
According to Woodville-Pahiatua Racing Club's secretary Paula McCool Woodville has provisionally been given four race-days for the next season, the first being October 6 named on the draft calendar.
Paula says the club will go all out to make it a memorable day with the naming of one of the races after Jack Harris, the legendary trainer from Woodville who passed away last week. She hopes his family will attend, bringing other well-known horse training sons Peter, Noel and Desi with them. "We have to be innovative," she said, "to show the NZ Thoroughbred Racing Industry we are worth saving." The club has turned a profit for the last five years.
On May 14 the NZ Herald reported "If the proposed calendar is not changed, and there could still be some last-minute arguing, New Zealand will have 32 fewer thoroughbred meetings next season.
Many of the track closures align with the Messara report recommendations of August 2018 and while they may not be a surprise, the swiftness with which they are being brought in will shock plenty and even outrage those in areas where racing fans will be left without a local track."
It will also mean some trainers will have to move from training at their local tracks should they wish to continue, and the loss of racing in some regions will inevitably impact on the number of future owners and even punters in those areas.
Paula McCool said the Woodville club will watch with interest the result of Avondale's fight and in the meantime "Woodville must continue to wave the flag."