Racecourse in doubt after odds lengthen on repairs
By Michael Sinclair-Jones
THE FATE of Toodyay’s historic racecourse is in doubt after an engineer’s report found that major repairs are needed to make it safe before punters can return next year.
Toodyay Shire CEO Suzie Haslehurst said the cost was “much more” than an earlier estimate of $100,000 to replace a leaking roof over the main betting area.Read more
This year’s races were scratched and the running of the Toodyay Cup moved to Belmont after the local betting and public bar area was deemed unsafe for public use.
The facilities are owned by the shire and leased to the Toodyay Race Club.
Cancellation of this year’s September races prompted the shire to order a structural engineer’s report which highlighted a number of electrical, plumbing and structural defects.
Repairs would require “significant cost”, Ms Haslehurst said.
The club said in May that it planned to resume local racing next year, but this may now be in doubt.
It said at the time that it had spent thousands of dollars on maintenance over several years but had no money to pay for major repairs.
The main roof was beyond repair, gutters were rusted and new electrical equipment had been wrecked by heavy rain in April.
A Herald inspection of the damage revealed that the clubrooms, members’ bar and jockey changerooms also needed repairs.
Ms Haslehurst said the shire had written to the race club about “a number of issues of concern in relation to risk”.
“We will also get our own insurers to inspect the building,” she said.
The track is used for racing only once a year for the running of the Toodyay Cup.
Ms Haslehurst said there had been no shire contact with Racing and Wagering WA about the future of the historic race track.
She said the shire met Toodyay Race Club representatives at the end of last month and presented them with a list of the “more urgent repairs” that needed to be done before racing could safely resume.
The club had agreed to respond with a presentation to a February meeting of the Toodyay Shire Council.
One option was to give ownership of the land to the race club.
However, the club has said previously that the shire – as owner of the buildings – was responsible for repairs, which the club said should be completed before any handover.
Toodyay Race Club Chair and former shire deputy president John Prater said the club would consider its options before making a presentation to the council in February.
The Toodyay Race Club was founded in 1865 and celebrated its 150th year in 2015.
The popular country racecourse is one of the oldest in WA.