One of the few grass greyhound tracks left and Victoria’s sole grass greyhound racing track at Healesville will receive a huge funding boost to go loam but many old-timers might rue the death of the last of the grass tracks in Victorian greyhound racing.
Under the plan, Healesville Greyhound Racing Club will receive a $1.5 million funding boost to construct a new spectator pavilion and redevelop the track, Deputy Premier and Minister for Racing Rob Hulls announced today.
Visiting the club, Mr Hulls said Healesville, with its picturesque surroundings and quality racing, was set to become one of Victoria’s premier greyhound racing tracks, receiving TAB status and now holding 52 race meets each year.
“The new spectator pavilion will support the growing popularity of greyhound racing at Healesville, providing a comfortable, glassed-in viewing area for the thousands of racegoers and trainers who visit the track every year,” he said.
“The club’s old grass track will be replaced with Burrumbeet sand, bringing it into line with the tracks at Warragul, Warrnambool and Sandown, and allowing racing to take place all year round.”
The Government will contribute $375,000 for the new pavilion and track upgrade through the $86 million Regional Racing Infrastructure Fund, with Greyhound Racing Victoria providing the remaining $1.125 million.
Mr Hulls also announced a total of $31,250 in grants for the Healesville Amateur Racing Club, the Kilmore Racing Complex and the Yea Racing Club as part of the Brumby Labor Government’s $400,000 Living Country Racing Program.
He said the program funded projects that benefited racing participants, spectators, tourists and local communities, especially at smaller racing venues with limited access to racing industry funds. The clubs are required to match the funding with their own contributions.
“Since the launch of the program in 2001, the Government has provided more than $4.5 million worth of funding to country racing clubs across Victoria,” Mr Hulls said.
Member for Seymour Ben Hardman said the grants were further evidence of the Brumby Labor Government’s commitment to racing in rural and regional Victoria.
He said the Healesville Amateur Racing Club would receive $9400 for two projects to seal the bookmaker area and install a pedestrian gate at the racecourse entrance.
Kilmore will receive $15,000 to renovate its jockey and harness driver rooms, which are used by the racing industry, community groups and the Country Fire Authority.
Infrastructure at the Yea Racing Club will also be bolstered, with the Government announcing two grants worth $6,850 to install car park lighting and an automated track watering system.
“Racing clubs in regional Victoria play a pivotal role in local communities, fostering a strong sense of community spirit, while also helping to drive the local economy,” Mr Hardman said.
“These grants assist our racing clubs to fulfil their racing responsibilities and play a major role in supporting the many local community and sporting groups who use the racing clubs’ facilities on non-race days.”
Greyhound Racing Victoria (GRV) chairman Nick Caley welcomed the funding announcement for Healesville’s new pavilion and track redevelopment.
“Healesville boasts a unique track and is GRV’s ideal picnic and family weekend destination,” Mr Caley said. “Set in one of Victoria’s strongest tourism industries, it provides visitors to this region with a family-friendly greyhound experience when they are in the area.
“Its straight track is the only one of its kind in Victoria and with this conversion from grass to sand, we can accommodate racing here 12 months of the year on a better quality racing surface for our greyhounds. Sky Channel’s coverage every Sunday will also showcase this beautiful venue to a growing national and overseas television audience.”