By Racing Queensland Chief Executive Officer BRENDAN PARNELL
A warm welcome to each and every one of our readers to 2021.
While much of 2020 was monopolised by COVID-19 – and rightly so – we remain mindful of the broader issues which continued to confront our industry including the lingering effects of flood, fire and drought across the state.
After an extraordinary year, Racing Queensland announced at the start of last month that we would provide an additional $15.5 million in funding as part of an Industry Investment Plan, which would commence from January 1.
Under the Plan, which will benefit almost 40,000 Queensland participants, RQ will deliver increased prizemoney, along with infrastructure grants and higher club payments.
The Plan includes $5.25 million in grant funding to support the infrastructure requirements of the industry, with funding prioritised towards projects that have been identified as critical for club sustainability.
Since 2017, we have grown returns to participants from $174 million to $223 million and are well on our way to realising our strategic ambition of $250 million.
While COVID-19 has significantly impacted Queensland racing clubs during 2020 – requiring extensive hardship and Winter Carnival compensation payments from RQ – the organisation continues to monitor the financial health of our clubs.
In 2020, RQ paid out more than $8 million to clubs and the Industry Investment Plan will further increase their payments.
The key greyhound initiatives as part of the Plan include:
- $1 million per annum in increased prizemoney for Queensland bred greyhounds, who race in Queensland. The first race start, first maiden win, second win and first masters win, doubling to $1k per race, shared between breeder (40%), owner (40%) and for the first time, trainers (20%).
As stated at the time, it is important that we provide all participants with the confidence to continue to work and invest within the Queensland racing industry.
As a result, we are delivering strategic funding for our three codes, with a strong emphasis on commercial competitiveness at the grassroots and making Queensland attractive for all participants.
TAB Golden Greys Summer Carnival
The 2020/21 TAB Queensland Summer Racing Carnival is set to reach a thrilling conclusion next month at Albion Park.
Staged over six action-packed meetings, the Golden Greys once again provides feature racing opportunities for sprinters, middle distance types, stayers, and age-restricted greyhounds.
With Sentenced taking out Group 2 Queensland Derby and Pump It prevailing in the Bogie Leigh Futurity, the Golden Greys got off to a blistering start.
The action is far from over with highlights still to come including:
- The Group 2 Golden Sands;
- The Group 3 Golden Ticket; and
- The Group 1 Gold Bullion offering an incredible $235,000.
In the Derby, Sentenced claimed a thrilling win after taking down red-hot favourite Farmor Beach with his final strides.
The Tony Brett-trained dog overcame an awkward start, where he was pushed right out from the rail on the first turn, before recovering to settle in fourth around the back straight.
Sentenced is the progeny of National Sprint and Group 1 Winter Cup winner Jury, and hopes are high that he can follow a similar blueprint.
In the Futurity, Pump It provided Mark Saal with his first Group winner as a trainer with plenty to look forward to on the horizon.
It looked to be a race in three as they approached the final turn, before Pump It, who had settled near-last out of the boxes, flew into contention by taking a rails run and cutting the corner into the straight.
With the finishing post in sight, Pump It put the afterburners on and secured Mark his first Group winner after previously placing during his opening stint as a trainer.
With the ‘Minimum Payment Obligation’ secured through the TAB/Tatts merger expiring at the end of the 2020 calendar year, the performance of our Queensland wagering partner, TAB, remains one of our biggest challenges.
The recent customer migration, which allows Queensland account holders to now access the combined Tabcorp technology platform, is a step in the right direction, along with enhancements such as Venue Mode.
But with the national wagering market continuing to reset, it is incumbent upon us to ensure TAB delivers on the merger benefits that were promised.
Strategic planning sessions
RQ conducted a range of code strategy sessions in December in order to advance the Queensland racing industry.
Further consultation will take place with industry representatives in the coming months.
The sessions provided an opportunity for RQ to share its views across a range of topics including strategic direction; wagering; infrastructure; animal care; advocacy; marketing; and clubs.
At the same time, concept planning for the Greater Brisbane Greyhound Centre remains on track to be completed by the end of next month.
Further stakeholder engagement will occur with the industry as this phase concludes, with RQ keen to ensure that the benefits of the project are positively presented as it reaches out to various community stakeholders.
Capalaba celebrates TAB racing anniversary
Finally, it was great to be at the Capalaba Greyhound Racing Club last month with the RQ team to celebrate its second anniversary as a TAB venue.
Capalaba has come along in leaps and bounds since its TAB conversion, and as touched on last month, is now running further meetings to assist with those greyhounds chasing straight track opportunities.