Agriculture Minister, Ralph Eichler, recently announced the provincial government’s new three-year plan, with the goal of transitioning the Manitoba horse racing industry into a more sustainable future.
“The new report included Red River Ex, and it would have included extra days. So now, staying status quo means we’re not losing anything, but we’re actually not gaining what we had hoped either. We will continue to work with them the best we can to make it successful,” says Darryl Mason, President of the Great Western Harness Racing Circuit.
In 2014, the previous government and the Manitoba Jockey Club (MJC) reached a court ordered settlement, which ensured the province provide MJC with annual supplemental grants for a 10-year duration:
– $5.4 million for years one to four;
– $5.25 million for years five and six;
– $5 million for years seven and eight;
– $4 million for year nine; and
– $3 million for year 10.
This has now been restructured into a three-year framework, which will allow the government time to come up with a long-term plan.
The government’s support is very important, adds Mason. “It’s not a grant that we get from the province, but we get a portion of what is bet at Assiniboia Downs. So it’s actually coming from horse racing in the province,” as roughly $336,000 came in to the organization. The funds go towards operations, town expenses, and hiring workers, etc.
Mason says, they are uncertain as to what the three-year deal looks like, but they are hopeful that the industry will be able to continue moving forward.
“The breeding, training and racing of horses in Manitoba is a significant economic activity that supports agricultural linkages and attracts visitors to our province,” adds Eichler. The industry also provides a number of Manitobans with jobs.