Gifford Hill: Murray Bridge Racing Club targets early 2019 finish date | MAP

Horses will be racing at Gifford Hill early in 2019, mark John Buhagiar's words.

The expected completion date for the equestrian and residential development has been continually pushed back for almost 10 years.

But the finish line is almost in sight, the Murray Bridge Racing Club secretary told about 30 people at a Murray Bridge Business Alliance (MBBA) function on Thursday night.

"There was a lot of talk in the town a few years ago with regard to what's happened," he said.

"The truth of the matter is in 2012 there was a global financial crisis."

He said the club's bank had reduced the amount of funding it was willing to offer from 85 to 25 per cent of the value of the land.

"The club was very fortunate to receive a government grant of $5 million for the race day facility; the joint venture partners (developers Burke Urban) were then able to invest $5 million of their own money to get racing going at the new site," he said.

Race day stalls, the first in South Australia to be fully undercover, have already been built, and the track was laid several years ago.

Work will soon begin on a glass-fronted function centre at the new racecourse, capable of hosting up to 600 people for race days or other events.

A function for 400 people has already been booked, despite the site being little more than a foundation at present.

After the track and function centre, the next focus for the development will be a number of mixed-use allotments for horse owners who might want to live near the racecourse.

Each will have space enough for a family home, stables, exercise yards and shedding, and a bridle path with a direct link to the racecourse.

Biosecurity will also be a major consideration, considering the impact equine flu had on the racing industry in 2006: there will be a buffer zone between each property so any disease outbreaks can be isolated.

Mr Buhagiar described the club's provision of services to local trainers as its core business, and the horse racing industry as one of South Australia's largest employers.

"We're now the second-largest training centre in South Australia and that's important to our business," he said.

"We're fortunate our committee had the foresight to look at the opportunities.

"We don't race every day of the year and we need to think about how we're going to grow our business."

As to Burke Urban's plans for the old racecourse, which was to be transformed into housing and an expansion of Murray Bridge Golf Club, he said only that discussions were ongoing.

The other speaker at the MBBA function was TAFE SA lecturer Nicola Danby, who shared tips for visual merchandising with the business owners and managers present.