Devonport racing’s vital meeting

\"\"Caption: The future of Devonport greyhound racing is clouded after hurdles were reported in the shift from The Showgrounds to a newly built track. (Photo courtesy: Hobart Mercury)

By David Brasch

A MEETING in November between Tasracing and the developers of the Devonport Showgrounds site is hoped to clarify the future of greyhound racing in the area.

Greyhound and harness racing at the Devonport Showgrounds is due to stop in March 2022 after more than three decades at the complex.

The Devonport Agricultural and Pastoral Society signed an agreement a few years ago with the Devonport Showground Project to develop the site.

The $75 million project is reported to provide the Devonport community with more than 200 new homes and 600 jobs.

The Showgrounds have been the main racing venue for greyhound and harness codes on the North-West Coast for decades, currently hosting 52 greyhound meetings and 14 harness meetings each year.

It was announced by the Tasmanian Government that greyhound racing would move from the Showgrounds thanks to an $8 million commitment.

The funding was to break an impasse over the future of the site, allowing racing to continue in Devonport while clearing the way for the residential development

But rumours are rife in Tasmanian greyhound racing circles that funding of the project at the Showgrounds may have run into problems.

Wynyard trainer Ben Englund is on the Devonport Club committee and part of the project committee for the new facility.

\”We are waiting on word in November if the sale of the Showgrounds is actually going ahead and if it is progressing on target,\” Englund said.

Englund confirmed a new dual code racing facility site had been sourced about 20 minutes from the current showgrounds.

Obviously this would be several years before being built.

\”We are even at the stage of talking track design etc,\” he said.

But Englund said greyhound racing was in a \”bad spot without a racetrack for some time\”.

\”It\’s a nightmare for trainers in this area; an absolute nightmare come March next year,\” he said.

Englund\’s Wynyard base is two hours from Launceston and four hours from Hobart, the two Tasmanian tracks expected to share Devonport\’s 52 race dates.

\”I get home from Hobart at 3.30am by the time trialling is completed after the last race,\” he said.

\”We need some clear direction on what is happening at the Showgrounds.\”

Currently Devonport races weekly and trials two or three times a week.

Englund said the planning for a new facility would incorporate a one-turn track and updated version of what is at the Showgrounds.

\”We have got to look after the needs of greyhound racing people,” he said.

Back in July 2020, developer Simon Want called on Tasracing to help resolve what he called a \”stoush\” over the Showgrounds’ proposal and future.

Tasracing previously had declared it had a lease at the Showgrounds until 2040.

Earlier, the buyers of the site had indicated the Australian Housing Initiative, which they founded, would consult widely with site users, the state government, the Devonport City Council, business, the public and other interested stakeholders to ensure the site offered the best opportunities.

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