Racing cash going down the drain

BALLINA trainer Danny Bowen has pleaded for drainage work on the Ballina racecourse to be fast-tracked after another meeting was cancelled on Sat-urday due to wet weather.

Ballina had nine of its meetings cancelled or postponed in the 2010-11 financial year and 2011-12 has started no better.

Bowen said the situation had become dire for himself and other trainers at the Ballina Jockey Club.

“We've been going nowhere for several months,” he said.

“The Ballina club is a big training centre and a beautiful venue for racing but we're forced to train in the wet again and again and again.

“We need help from Racing NSW to get our drains modernised. We've had to travel else-where just to race.

“You're talking about a livelihood here and our way of making money. What can you do? You just keep praying, it's beyond hard luck.

“If you owned a shop in this situation you'd close the doors.

“I'd give it away tomorrow but it's the only thing I've done since I was 15.”

The number of cancellations is believed to be the worst in the State, according to BJC secretary-manager Sarah Wills.

“Lismore moved some of its races to Ballina (because of drainage improvements) and we took advantage of that, but even some of those races were washed out,” she said.

“It's hard to host race meetings when you can barely walk across your own backyard because it has been so wet.

“The tracks aren't drying out as much now as they do in summer. It's going to be hard to reschedule Saturday's meeting because of its Sky II TAB status.”

However, Wills said the Ballina club was well equipped to deal with the financial blow of losing so many race meetings.

“We've been very prudent with our finances over the past 12 months,” she said.

“We're hoping to get a positive outcome from the racefield legislation court case (against bookmakers Sportsbet and Betting Exchange Betfair).

“If it's positive, there will be a release of funds which will be put back into race clubs.”

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