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Council commitment keeps equine industries on track

THE continued expansion of equine industries in Somerset will provide an ongoing boost for business owners and tourism operators, Mayor Graeme Lehmann says.

Published: July 30th 2019

THE continued expansion of equine industries in Somerset will provide an ongoing boost for business owners and tourism operators, Mayor Graeme Lehmann says.

Somerset Regional Council allocated $1 million to the Kilcoy Racecourse redevelopment in the 2019/20 budget and this month gave the Esk Jockey Club a $27,000 Community Assistance Grant.

The grant has funded an upgrade of the club’s bore and irrigation system, and council has committed more money to the Esk facility via general improvements to the grounds.

Council has also confirmed the purchase of a 6ha block of land to the north of the Kilcoy Racecourse and Showground, clearing the way for the site’s expansion.

Councillor Lehmann said the move would have a flow-on effect across the community.

“As a council we are 100 per cent behind the growth of Somerset’s equine industries – be it racing, campdrafting or equestrian – and the expansion of the Kilcoy Racecourse is a great strategic move for our region,” Cr Lehmann said.

“This will allow for a new 1,200m chute to be added to the track, further increasing its appeal for more regional racing, including televised events.

“The additional recreational land will support the growth of other activities at the complex while increasing Kilcoy’s attraction as a lifestyle destination and facilitating discussions with the State Government over allowing more rural equestrian development near Somerset’s main employment growth centre.”

One business benefitting from the boom is Daniel Banditt Constructions, the team overseeing the major works at Kilcoy.

“For me, as someone who grew up in the region and still has family in Esk, this is a really exciting project to be part of,” owner Daniel Banditt said.

“At Kilcoy we’re building a shared barbecue space, indoor and outdoor dining area and tiered seating for 300 people; improving the betting ring and overall disability access; and providing a direct link to the Trackside Pavilion.

“The completed project will be a great asset for the local area.”

Cr Lehmann agreed, saying regional racing and other equine events continued to be major tourism draws for Somerset.

“The Esk races on 13 July brought busloads of visitors to the region, as did the Kilcoy Cup day on 15 June,” Cr Lehmann said.

“Annual visitation at Kilcoy is tipped to increase from 74,000 people to 100,000, with racing to return on Saturday, 24 August.

“Importantly, the success of these regional race days is not confined to the tracks, but impacts our cafes, pubs, small businesses, tourism operations and accommodation providers.

“Then there’s feed producers and providers, trainers, track staff and vets – the positive impacts in the wider community really can’t be underestimated.”

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