Corstens fears for trainers, staff

Troy Corstens

Trainer Troy Corstens (Image: Darren McNamara)

With Jarrad Dooley

He’s had one of the hardest weeks of his career as a trainer, but Troy Corstens fears things will only get worse as the racing industry feels the effects of the COVID-19 crisis.

The Flemington horseman has been forced to lay off several staff members in recent days as restrictions on the industry – and indeed the wider community – take a financial toll on the stable he runs with his father Leon.

“It’s literally a day-to-day proposition at the moment,” Corstens said.

“As a horse training business, we don’t run at a high profit and things are really starting to tighten up and unfortunately I’ve had a couple of horrible conversations in the last couple of days.

“I’ve had to put five staff off, it’s been really hard because they’re not conversations that you want to have.

“You’re playing with people’s lives and it’s not something that we want to do but we’ve had to move five on to make sure that the other 25 can stay in work for the time being and keep going.”

WATCH: Hear from Corstens

Corstens also revealed the precarious position that he and other trainers were finding themselves in with owners – many of whom have lost their jobs or taken pay cuts in recent weeks – who had outstanding training bills.

“You always carry a certain amount of debt in a horse racing business, but it is worse at the moment,” he said.

“You’ve got to ask people for money to train their horses so that our business can go on but you know that they’re in hard positions themselves so it’s not like you can be forceful and get it that way.”

Despite the gloomy outlook, Corstens is optimistic about a fruitful weekend on the track, provided racing is given the green light to resume.

Shamus Award filly Swats That will debut in the $250,000 VOBIS Gold Rush (1000m) at Bendigo and Corstens believes it could be the start of a successful career for the two-year-old.

“I really like her a lot, I think she’s a filly with an extremely bright future,” he said.

“Both of her trials have been excellent and her trackwork is good, although she’s got a little bit of attitude.

“Being by Shamus Award, I don’t think the 1000 metres is going to be her ideal trip but she’s got the class to be able to tackle a race like that on Saturday.”

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