Fingers crossed for new QLD initiatives

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There have been a couple of things pop up over the last week or so in Queensland racing that I feel are worth letting people know about in case they missed them.

First of all there was a good article I read in the Gold Coast Bulletin by Daniel Meers. (You can read it here http://www.goldcoast.com.au/article/2012/01/23/384475_gold-coast-magic-millions.html ) He mentioned that we won’t see the Magic Millions run in the middle of the day next year and it will be run later in the day to be more of a ‘grand final’ event, and to be part of the quadrella. It was changed this year because channel nine wanted it to fit in with the cricket. That alone is a whole different issue. But I have to agree that sanity has prevailed as it was unbelievable that the feature was run as race five on a nine race card. There was an interesting comment from Gerry Harvey that there is thought to drop the race day from nine races to eight because the day becomes too long for people? There is no curfew to get into the joint, so punters can turn up and leave whenever they like. I know a lot of Gold Coast people that make it their one day to the races and love being there for as long as possible, I’m not sure I have ever been told by anyone at the races that the day was too long. That extra race allows around another 16 lot of connections to get their horses into a race on Magic Millions day, and probably be the highlight of owning a horse. As far as that idea goes I think it would be a mistake to drop a race off the card.

The other interesting development was the Brisbane Racing Club deciding to announce an initiative that they feel will bring the champions of Australia racing together over our carnival. Article can be found here http://www.brc.com.au/blog/entry/australias-best-are-brisbane-bound-for-carnival-2012/ . They will jointly fund (with Events QLD) the cost of travel and entry into the Stradbroke and Oaks fields the winners of selected races throughout the year, feeling that this will bring them north. Now I can see both sides of this argument, and I think it may be worth a go and see how it comes off. I noticed Ken Callander wrote in The Daily Telegraph an article where he agreed with the concept and compared it to the Twenty 20 cricket teams buying imports(such as Chris Gayle) as they bring people through the turnstiles. That is true to a certain point, and I agree with him, but this isn’t cricket, and there are a lot of other cricketers who get people excited too. Unfortunately our sport of racing is not so lucky, and there are very few horses that can pull a crowd to a race course. Other than Black Caviar, do you know of many friends who would say “Lights Of Heaven won the Australasian Oaks and is heading to Brisbane, let’s go watch!” Or “Let’s check out Hadabeclorka in the Stradbroke this Saturday.”  A horse that is able to take up the offer this year is Ortensia who has raced in a Stradbroke already, but can get a free trip to go again. Will she really lift crowd figures and create enough interest to cover the costs?  They are just a few examples of winners over the last couple of years that would be exempt from ballots and have all expenses paid to ‘lift’ our carnival.

In the case of Black Caviar and saying she would have been exempt last year, they were either going to run in the Stradbroke or give her a spell, whatever was best for the horse. This initiative would not have helped the case, surely? Given she has won over $4 million in stakes, I doubt the entry fee was an issue and they were already here. The 60kg+ she would have received in the Straddie would have been the main concern.

It’s not that I’m overly critical of the idea, but I don’t really see too many group 1 winning trainers and owners really pulling the pin from their horses campaigns because of the cost’s to get here, or because they may miss a start in one of the big races. There would be very few who would not qualify for the QLD Oaks and The Stradbroke if they come off a group 1 or 2 win? And very few would not come because of cost when they have just won a big feature, remembering that the Stradbroke is worth $1,000,000.

Don’t get me wrong, it may be worth a go, but if there is a lot of money getting paid out and it is doing nothing for the winter carnival, I hope they can have the nerve to pull the pin, and if they want to inject money into Brisbane racing then flick it into lifting prize money to some degree, whether it be a little amount over a lot of races, or into a couple of off season features for the local trainers and owners  to share in may be the way to go.

The other promotion by BMW to allow trainers the chance to win a car by having runners to place (1st-4th) in both the Doomben 10,000 and Stradbroke and get the chance to choose 1 of 50 keys, and one of them will unlock the BMW is a fantastic idea and will get great coverage for both themselves and the carnival (especially if the car actually goes off!) Similar ideas at the great Warrnambool carnival have proved a great hit over the last few years.

That’s simply my take on it, I really do hope the initiatives work and that our carnival can go to a new level over the next few years, but only time will tell.