Multi-million-dollar upgrade of Ballina racecourse planned

Jenny Vallotto and Christine Henderson at The 2013 Ballina Cup.
Jenny Vallotto and Christine Henderson at The 2013 Ballina Cup.

A MULTI-million-dollar upgrade of the Ballina racecourse funded by Racing NSW could commence as early as March 2014, newly appointed Ballina Jockey Club chairman Greg Nash announced yesterday.

Mr Nash joined four other newly selected interim board members to reveal details of the planned upgrade, alongside new club chief Craig Kelly and Racing NSW representatives.

The new turf all-weather track would be raised above the level of a one-in-100-year flood and could absorb "any amount of rain", with racing any day of the week.

It is expected to provide a boom for the local economy, with BJC committing to using local tradespeople and contractors.

Currently the club is supervising completion of the master plan, to be followed by a tender process, with construction set to begin next year.

The racecourse will close for 12 months during reconstruction.

Mr Nash said the club had set a goal of it becoming a training home to 250 horses, almost triple the 85 horses now trained there, bringing in much-needed revenue to secure the club's financial future.

The announcement follows six months of financial administration after the previous board was asked to step down in March.

Mr Nash said the club had cleared its debts with a $200,000 non-interest long-term loan from Racing NSW and set a "realistic and achievable" budget for the next two years.

He said the club's problems were financial but it had been "bedevilled" by bad weather, with 18 out of a planned 35 meetings cancelled in the past three years.

Rainfall over the past two years had been 50% higher than the historical average, jumping from two metres to three metres.
Mr Nash said it had "taken some time to appoint the right board members" to lead the club through its transformation, but it was now in "safe hands".

A new interim board will manage the club for a minimum of two years

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