Leading trainer threatens to leave Qld
THE Gold Coast's leading horse trainer says he will seriously consider packing up his stable and move south if the State Government does not bolster prizemoney.
Speaking for the first time about the tax scandal, Toby Edmonds says he badly wants to continue to support Queensland racing, but the Government needs to "wake up" - and quickly.
"I think about (moving) all the time but we are here for a reason," Edmonds said.
"We have our own property and family here.
"I want to race in Queensland but it's becoming very difficult to keep supporting it.
"It's not hard to do. We have six horses in Victoria at the moment who have all won stakes races. To be quite truthful they are very professionally run and more welcoming.
"If the government don't wake up and tip some money back in so we can compete with southern states, we would seriously think about moving.
"This (point of consumption) tax is one chance we have to get some good prizemoney. They need to come to the party quickly."
The stoush between industry figures and the Labor government reached new heights late last week when it was announced owners, trainers and jockeys would boycott Queensland TAB meetings on Cox Plate day on Saturday and Melbourne Cup day on November 6.
The strike means there will be no live racing on the Gold Coast on those days. However, the gates will still be open so punters can party on two of the biggest days on the national racing calendar.
Key thoroughbred figures are annoyed about how the State Government plans to spend the proceeds of a new 15 per cent tax on all bookmakers betting on Queensland races.
NSW has introduced a 10 per cent tax while increasing prizemoney by $24 million while Victoria has 8 per cent tax and has increased prizemoney by $12.4 million for participants.
The Queensland tax is estimated to produce $70 million the first year and $100 million the next.
The Government, through Treasurer Jackie Trad, has proposed to split the $70 million three ways:
● A one-off $20 million grant will be given to harness and greyhound racing.
● The $17.5 million "write-off' of an existing $35 million loan Racing Queensland owes the Government.
● $35 million to cover the tax of betting organisation Ubet which has an agreement for Racing Queensland to cover any additional taxes the betting shop owes.
Racing Queensland wants some of the money to be used to increase prizemoney.
Until a solution was found, Edmonds said he would continue to send horses south of the border.
The number of Gold Coast-trained horses racing over the border in NSW has increased from seven to 25% this season.
"We would rather go to NSW chasing better prizemoney for our clients than run at the Gold Coast on a Saturday," Edmonds said.
"We have a chance right now to be able to close the gap between the two southern states to what it should be and to give our owners and clients a chance for more prizemoney.
"The Government is completely ignorant to the fact that they have put this tax on that is derived from the racing industry and they don't have the foresight to put anything back in.
"They need to realise it's our industry. They are not getting up at 3am or going to the yearling sales spending millions of dollars trying to buy a yearling."