Increased prize money used to boost numbers

Stawell harness racing.
Stawell harness racing.

Harness Racing Victoria (HRV) has announced an increase of stakemoney for the 2017/18 season.

The HRV board approved an increase of stakemoney to $40 million for the next financial year. 

A number of initiatives were put in place by HRV after a slow 2016/17 season, in order to continue to grow the sport.

30 fewer race meetings will be held across the next season, but there will be more races held overall to provide more opportunity for both spectators and industry members.

HRV chief executive officer David Martin said the initiatives put forward are exciting.

“The industry faces a number of challenges. One of the things we want to do is boost participation, so we are looking forward to growing the sport,” he said.

Mr Martin said the reduction in race meets should only be temporary.

“We have reduced the amount of meets only slightly, and we hope it will be a short term measure while we build participation,” he said. 

Stawell Harness Racing Club CEO Lisa McIlvride said the announcement will be a good move overall for the club.

“We would have liked to run more meets, but it will be great for the club to be able to run more races,” she said. 

Stawell will maintain the same amount of meets for 2017/18.

HRV will also attempt to counter the annual trend of lower participation in the September and October with all $3500 and $5000 races in that period carrying a $750 bonus payment to the winner.

Mr Martin said benefits of the changes are already being seen.

“We have meetings this week that have 11 and 12 races, and I think we will see a similar thing in Stawell,” he said.

Mr Martin said he is confident the changes will be beneficial for Stawell.

“Stawell is a very well run club, it is a very important part of our network. We believe these initiatives will benefit the club,” he said.