Lines Drawn In South Australian Fee Dispute

Earlier in the year it was Racing New South Wales that was making headlines, lately it’s turned to disputes north of the border in Queensland, now the latest state to have tensions in the industry looks like being South Australia.

Thoroughbred Racing SA is fighting off claims that the industry is broke and that they are desperate to bring in extra income.

Things reached fever pitch after they announced a fee increase to trainers which some have called a grab for cash.

The recommended fee hike would see some trainers outlay increase by over 100 percent.

John Hickmott has arisen as the unelected leader of the opposition on the issue and the Murray bridge based trainer says isn’t taking a backward step.

He claims that he could be out of pocket an extra $15,000 should the new fee’s be introduced, something he’s seething about.

“There has been no consultation and this has just come out of the blue,” Hickmott said yesterday.

“We are organising a meeting of trainers as we believe Gawler and Strathalbyn are also affected.

“We’re not looking to be militant but this is creating a ‘them and us’ situation that is not healthy.”

Hickmott is being backed up by club committee member Ron Morgan who says the industry is in danger of falling into a two speed economy with one side well off and the other battling for survival.

“It appears racing in SA is still somewhat divided as one side is rolling in money while the rest of us are left to pay through the nose,” he said.

“On one hand we have the SAJC that took two racetracks (Victoria Park and Cheltenham Park) out of the industry and are now sitting on $50 million in the bank to spend as they like.

“Meanwhile you’ve got a club like Murray Bridge that has gone out on a limb to build a new state-of-the-art racecourse and training facility that has not cost the industry or the government one cent.”

Morgan even claims Murray bridge was threatened with a $50,000 funding cut should they not impose the fee hike.

TRSA chief Jim Watters though say’s that statement is ludicrous.

“The fees are recommendations and it’s up to the clubs whether they charge them or not,” Watters said.

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