WARRNAMBOOL’S $100m racing industry is under threat because of a horse training ban at Levys Point.
Warrnambool Racing Club chief executive Peter Downs fears trainers will shut their stables, dramatically cutting jobs and the industry’s annual injection into the city’s economy if a ban on horses using the dunes becomes permanent.
Racing Minister Martin Pakula spoke with Warrnambool council on Wednesday.
Downs said the district’s beaches were an asset to trainers. He worries some of the more than 50 trainers would weigh up their futures.
"We thought we were making good progress about the local beaches and then out of left field, we get hit with news about Levys Point," he said. "I worry some local trainers will be forced to move for their businesses to survive.
“The racing industry is a big employer in this town and puts more than $100 million into the local economy but that is now under threat.
“The whole thing is not looking really positive but we're just waiting to have meetings with Warrnambool City Council and Aboriginal Affairs Victoria (AAV)."
The Levys Point ban came after AAV “cautioned” the council about the potential impacts of horse training on indigenous cultural heritage. The council has also made changes to Lady Bay access in the interests of safety concerns for beach users.
The industry has been working with the council and Moyne Shire for seven months, trying to find a balance between horses and other beach users at Lady Bay and Killarney.