Shire of Plantagenet chief executive Rob Stewart says Plantagenet wineries and the Mt Barker Turf Club will be “absolutely shattered” by the cancellation of Grapes and Gallops.
The club’s biggest meet was scrapped yesterday after stewards deemed the troubled track too unsafe to host Sunday’s races. The race card is likely to be held at Albany Racing Club this Sunday.
Mr Stewart, pictured, who was the Shire’s chief executive when the Grapes and Gallops concept was conceived, said the event drew hundreds of visitors to Mt Barker.
“That’s one of the reasons the council supports Grapes and Gallops with a reasonable financial assistance grant and a lot of in-kind support,” he said.
Mr Stewart said he had met MBTC president Stephen Carter last week and discussed reticulation issues. He said the Shire used to carry out maintenance on the track but that arrangement was no longer in place.
He was “extraordinarily disappointed” to hear the event would not go ahead, he said.
“It’s really disappointed because a lot of people in Perth make the trek down for Grapes and Gallops because it’s not only the racing but the wine industry as well that use that day,” he said.
“It’s a great day.”
But Mr Stewart said he understood that safety came first.
“When you’re riding around at speed you don’t want to take any chances because if you come off, it could be very nasty,” he said.’
“We appreciate that.”
Mr Carter said the food and wine festival is likely to be held at another Mt Barker race meeting.
“We’ll discuss with the Wine Producers Association what they want to do but maybe we can run it on Mt Barker Cup day,” he said.
The loss is a major blow to the MBTC, which has lost several meetings in recent years.