Forbury Park set to close

Dunedin's Forbury Park trotting venue is set to close.

The Forbury Park Trotting Club has announced plans to sell the South Dunedin park and relocate to either a greenfields site in Dunedin or to Wingatui.

The announcement followed the release yesterday of the Otago/Southland Tri-code Racing review, which recommended Forbury Park, which is owned and run by the Dunedin club, should close.

Forbury Park Trotting Club Board chairman Craig Paddon said there would be sadness about the move, but the St Kilda club was looking to the future.

“While we don’t necessarily agree with all aspects of the report, it does reflect the work and conversations that the club has been having over the past 12 months, as we plan ahead and seek to grow all racing in Dunedin and secure a sustainable and prosperous future,’’ he said.

The club would explore being part of a development of an all-weather, multi-code equestrian centre at a greenfields site in the Dunedin area or set up at Wingatui, Mosgiel.

Both options were being actively considered.

Forbury Park has a high-quality track, but its coastal and residential location created challenges.

Operating and capital costs were not considered sustainable in the long term, without substantial investment and boosting the number of race dates.

Discussions between harness and thoroughbred clubs took place last year, and about 10 years earlier, but had not resulted in an agreement.

Yesterday’s announcement would create opportunities both for the trotting club and South Dunedin, Mr Paddon said.

Taieri MP Ingrid Leary said there was a chance to secure the future of racing in Dunedin, as well as bring about social and economic development and adapt to climate change.

The raceway was initially developed in 1870 on an area of reclaimed swamp.

Light harness racing began at Forbury Park in 1909.

"The club intends to facilitate the development of Forbury Park in a way that contributes to positive social, economic, environmental and community outcomes for South Dunedin, together with seeking the reinvestment of racing funds from the sale of Forbury back into another shared Dunedin location," Mr Paddon said.

The review was commissioned by New Zealand Racing.  (courtesy of the Otago Daily Times)

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