A SMALL but dedicated group of harness racing trainers still use the Thunder Point Raceway.
Warrnambool Harness Racing Club secretary Peter Matthews said while membership numbers had lowered over recent years, there was still a small committee.
His comments come after Warrnambool City councillor Peter Hulin said he would like to see the Thunder Point Raceway turned into a horse exercise facility. Cr Hulin suggested the idea as a way to solve the problem of too many horses using the city’s main beach.
The trotting track was established in the 1970s by the club's founding members and volunteers who helped level the former "rat-infested" tip site to build the raceway.
“The track is a rehabilitated tip site, with all the work being done by the Warrnambool Harness Racing Club,” Mr Matthews said.
Facilities include stalls, toilets and club rooms.
Mr Matthews said the Harness Racing Board Victoria (HRV) decided eight years ago to have more racing at Melton, in Melbourne’s outer west, and took meetings off country clubs.
“At our peak we had eight race meetings per year,” he said.
Mr Matthews said the Thunder Point raceway was now a training and trialling facility.
“We are negotiating a new lease on the track – this should be finalised by the end of November,” he said.
He said there were three on-course trainers.
“There are another three or four trainers who use the track on an ad hoc basis,” he said.
“I have just acquired a horse, after not having one for a years, because I know I will have somewhere to work it. While a couple of dozen or so horses isn’t a large number, they still need feeding, shoeing and are important in making up fields for Harness Racing Victoria.”
Mr Matthews said some racehorses already used the facilities at Thunder Point.
“One of Darren Weir’s local stables, run by Mark O’Donnell, also uses the track on an ad hoc basis for their slow work,” he said.
The trotting track is on Crown land and is the responsibility of the Department of Environment Land Water and Planning.