Toodyay races scratched – Cup moves to Belmont
A tangle of electrical wires festoons the leaky roof and water damaged ceiling over the TAB betting area which is used to store race-day cash and electronic gambling equipment.
By Michael Sinclair-Jones
TOODYAY’s annual Picnic Race Day has been scratched because the main undercover betting and bar area is unsafe.
This year’s Toodyay Cup will be run at Belmont instead, with buses in September for local punters who wish to attend.
The cancellation is a financial blow to many local community organisations, accommodation providers and traders who rely on the annual influx of thousands of tourists from Perth and elsewhere to one of WA’s best picnic race days.Read more
Punters will also be deprived of traditional post-race entertainment by Tod Johnstons’ popular Perth band Peace/Love.
The shock decision to cancel was made after recent heavy rain leaked through the ageing roof into the tote area and bar, wrecking a new 104cm (55-inch) TV and soaking other electrical equipment.
It is understood concerns were also raised about the poor condition of the Toodyay race track after two unseasonally dry summers left insufficient grass on the surface.
The Toodyay Race Club says it has spent thousands of dollars on maintenance over several years but has no money to pay for major repairs.
A large aluminium roof that spans the main betting area and bar has been patched many times and needs replacing at an estimated cost of at least $100,000.
Gutters are rusted and broken, and showers need to be installed for female jockeys who feature strongly on country race cards.
Model aircraft enthusiasts are the only regular visitors to the shire-owned racecourse which is used only once a year for the annual running of the Toodyay Cup.
A decision to move the Toodyay Cup to Belmont instead of Northam follows years of financial friction between the two neighbouring Avon Valley race clubs.
The Toodyay Race Club leases the track and buildings from the Shire of Toodyay, which said four or five years ago that it would upgrade the facilities but failed to allocate budget funds to pay for it.
Shire President Rosemary Madacsi alluded to it in this month’s President’s Pen report when she suggested community input on how best to manage all shire-owned sport and recreation facilities.
Toodyay Race Club Chair John Prater said the main roof had been patched every year for the past 15 years and was now beyond repair.
“All the gutters are rusted and don’t work,” he said.
“Water leaks into the bar and tote.”
Mr Prater, a former Toodyay shire deputy president until 2013, said tickets would be sold for buses to Belmont for the running of this year’s Toodyay Cup in Perth.