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    GREEN LIGHT: From left, Craig O’Connor from Locks Construction, Kevin Lane, Horsham Harness Racing Club, and Vicky McClure, West Side Horsham acting manager, on the site of new extensions for the club at Horsham Racing Centre. Picture: PAUL CARRACHER

Go-ahead for West Side Horsham expansion plan

A $2-million venture designed to secure the future of harness and thoroughbred racing in Horsham is about to get underway.

Contractors have the go-ahead to start extending West Side Horsham in a project that will almost double the size of the Horsham Racing Centre building.

The redevelopment, a partnership project between Horsham Harness Racing Club and Wimmera Racing Club, has been about six years in the making.

It involves establishing a new northern-entrance gaming room, bistro, kitchen and racecourse-facing dining for between 80 and 90 diners, and enhanced facilities for people with disabilities.

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The centre’s traditional gaming room will expand to become a major sports bar.

West Side board chairman Kevin Lane said expectations were that the new gaming room and bistro would open by the end of January, 2021.

“The sports bar will take another month to fit out and hopefully be ready by early February,” he said.

“We’re hoping the overall project will be completed in early March.

“We would love to see West Side become the ‘local’ for dining, TAB and bar facilities for Horsham West people as well as a major hospitality development for Horsham.

“We have never been able to offer a dining experience and this will be a great facility where people can dine, have a bet or play the pokies. 

“It will be the only venue in town to have the three.”

Mr Lane said the development would also strengthen Horsham Racing Centre’s position as a major sporting centre.

“We’ve had a few little delays but we’ve signed contracts, everything is approved and we’ve told the builders to start,” he said.

The clubs and the State Government, through its Victorian Racing Infrastructure Fund, have provided the money for the venture.

Mr Lane, a long-time Horsham harness-racing official, said considerable effort had gone into putting money away and pursuing funding opportunities. 

“There has been a hell of a lot of work from board members to make this happen,” he said.

“The idea is to drought-proof the two clubs and as funding gets tighter and tougher we have the opportunity to help ourselves. It means we’re not always depending on the racing dollar.”

Horsham harness and Horsham and District racing clubs, with support from their respective racing agencies, built West Side Horsham at Horsham racecourse in 1996.

A board involving representatives from both clubs oversaw the centre before the Horsham club joined Wimmera Racing Club and handed over control to the new entity.

Wimmera Racing Club has retained its share of ownership of the centre and the board is now made up of four harness racing and four Wimmera racing representatives.

“We’re all honorary board members. All money generated from the venue goes straight back into racing and supporting racing in the region,” Mr Lane said.

“This will strengthen harness and thoroughbred racing in Horsham.”

Horsham company Locks Constructions will build the project.

The entire May 13, 2020 edition of The Weekly Advertiser is available online. READ IT HERE!