Racecourse in doubt for September Toodyay Cup
By Michael Sinclair-Jones
HORSE racing seems unlikely to return to Toodyay in September after last year’s card was scratched due to public safety concerns.
Public access to the leaky undercover area (left) was banned last year after rain damage to exposed electrical wiring and equipment.Read more
The large shire-owned structure needs a new roof at an estimated cost of at least $100,000, and repairs are needed also for other track facilities such as the jockeys’ changerooms and commercial kitchen.
Toodyay Race Club Chair John Prater told The Herald last month that he didn’t know if this year’s races would be run.
It would mean that Toodyay has held its traditional annual picnic race day only once in the last four years – in 2021 – after COVID-19 halted all racing the year before.
Mr Prater said the shire should have repaired the undercroft roof in 2018.
However , the previous shire administration and former councillors decided instead to upgrade the undercroft floor, Mr Prater said.
“I was told there was money in forward planning but it never made it into the budget,” he said.
“You’d think it would make sense to fix the roof first but that didn’t happen.
“Last year we lost a brand new TV to water damage.
“I really don’t know if there will be races this year, it depends on what the shire comes back with.”
Mr Prater said he met shire representatives earlier this year after an engineer’s report commissioned by the shire found significant structural deficiencies.
“Local businesses want racing to continue because it brings spending to the town,” Mr Prater said.
“It benefits local hotels, cafes and accommodation providers, and helps to showcase the town.”
Mr Prater said Racing and Wagering WA – the State Government agency that manages WA’s horse racing industry– supported Toodyay racing to continue with only one event each year.
However, The Herald understands some Toodyay councillors object to spending a large amount of ratepayers’ money on repairing a costly shire-owned facility that gets used only once every 12 months.
Toodyay Shire CEO Suzie Haslehurst said she had received a risk assessment report on the racetrack’s condition from the shire’s insurer at the end of last month.
It would be examined and presented to councillors to decide what to do.
An inspection by The Herald last month found the main jockey’s changerooms to be in a dilapidated condition with only one shower, holes in the main undercroft roof and electrical wiring dangling (pictured above) from metal girders above the bookies’ stand.
The large number of females jockeys now riding on country race tracks means facilities for both genders may need to be upgraded.