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Horses and trainers to benefit from KI upgrades

Extra spaces for visiting horses and better facilities for their trainers will be the upshot of infrastructure improvements at the Kangaroo Island Racing Club.

Additional overnight stables will be constructed on track, along with two large “day yards”, while trainers’ facilities will be upgraded to make their stays more comfortable.

The changes will ensure the club is better placed to cater for a larger influx of visiting industry participants, particularly during its annual two-day carnival.

“We’re building some more overnight stables and a couple of bigger day yards,” club secretary/treasurer Greg Miller explained.

“A couple of the trainers have come over and said they’d like the ability to be able to put their horses into a bigger yard for a couple of hours.

“We’re also building some trainers’ facilities, (including) a shower down where all the trainers camp. It won’t be bricks and mortar, but it’ll be sufficient for what they need.

“We got a State Government grant to put some portable toilets down there as well, so the trainers don’t have to come up to the main area.”

Mr Miller said the additional facilities for thoroughbreds would significantly boost capacity.

“I think we’re doing nine new overnight boxes, and we’ve already got about 60, and two of the bigger round yards/day yards,” he said.

“It’s probably upped our capacity by about 10 per cent.”

Despite being held shortly after bushfires devastated a large section of the island, the 2020 carnival was an overwhelming success, attracting big crowds and healthy race fields.

“It was probably a bit tight for space there at one stage (of this year’s carnival),” Mr Miller said.

“But (the upgrade) was all about recognising that if we do get capacity fields, and people don’t want to just do a day trip, then we have some more overnight yards for their horses.”

The club is paying for the developments itself, except for the toilets, which were funded via a $33,000 grant, delivered by TRSA from the State Government’s $24 million industry development stimulus package, announced last year.

“That grant is for eight toilets and an additional disabled toilet,” Mr Miller said.

“We’re trying to make things more comfortable for trainers. There’ll also be a barbecue area, so instead of trainers having to use their own barbecue facilities or cooking equipment, they can use the club’s facilities down there.”

Continuing a roller-coaster year, the Kangaroo Island Racing Club recently won a Thoroughbred Racing South Australia (TRSA) award for Most Outstanding Achievement by a Club, recognising its effort to raise $79,000 for the Mayoral Bushfire Fund.

Mr Miller said the club was already looking forward to 2021.

“We’re travelling pretty well,” he said.

“The track and everything is looking in tip-top condition – we could race on it tomorrow if we really wanted to.

“We’re just doing all the fine tuning from here on in.”

The club’s first meeting of 2021 is a non-TAB affair on January 23, ahead of the two-day cup carnival on Thursday, February 18, and Saturday, February 20.

Meanwhile the club will host a leg of the 2020 Lexus Melbourne Cup Tour next week.

The Kingscote Town Hall will stage the event next Thursday, October 8, from 1.30pm.

For the first year in the initiative’s 17-year history, the Tour will be a combination of physical and virtual visits to communities across Australia, due to COVID-19 restrictions.

Champion Victorian-based jockey – and Kangaroo Island product – Dwayne Dunn and former racecaller Greg Miles will have the 2020 trophy in Melbourne and Zoom into the Kangaroo Island event, while former champion SA jockey John Letts will be at the Kingscote event with the 1950 Melbourne Cup, won by Comic Court.

“We’ve invited people to come into the town hall and get their photo taken with the 1950 Cup,” Mr Miller said.

“And if they want to interact with the Zoom meeting, they can do that as well.

“So, it’s all systems go.”

In normal years, the 18-carat gold Lexus Melbourne Cup trophy visits various destinations in an effort to unite communities by engaging councils, schools, hospitals, aged-care homes and racing groups in events to raise funds for local causes.

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