By TERRY WILSON
THE heat is starting to build and expectations are high for what everybody hopes will be another bumper TAB Summer Carnival at the state’s Albion Park headquarters.
Fingers are crossed that the coronavirus will soon be a thing of the past and that the cream of Queensland’s chasers will be challenged by an array of interstaters if border restrictions are eased by then.
Those restrictions cut heavily into the Winter Carnival at the Creek, although Victorian trainer Jason Thompson managed to win the G1 Brisbane Cup with Black Opium after flying the bitch to Tony Brett at Grandchester to be prepared.
But now it is on to summertime when a number of Group races are scheduled with prizemoney levels back to normal.
And Brisbane Greyhound Racing Club chief executive Luke Gatehouse is raring to go.
“The club is excited to host major events across the 2020 TAB Summer Carnival commencing with the Queensland Derby and Bogie Leigh Futurity Finals on December 10,” he said.
Those two events carry Group 2 status but after that come a number of major classics, headed by the G1 Gold Bullion (520m) and the Listed Gold Cup (710m) finals early in February.
“A highlight of last year’s carnival was the inaugural running of the Group 3 Golden Ticket series, which played a massive part in Sennachie’s golden run of success across the carnival.
“We will be running the same format in 2021 with the best 16 greyhounds competing in four-dogs heats to qualify for a series of four match races on January 21, where the fastest greyhound will be awarded the Golden Ticket and automatic entry into the Group 1 Garrard’s Gold Bullion.”
But that will just serve as an entrée to what comes afterwards.
“The crescendo of the carnival will have the best sprinters and stayers from across the nation compete for glory in the $235,000 Garrard’s Gold Bullion and $113,000 Garrard’s Gold Cup on February 4.”
Gatehouse described as ‘a remarkable effort’ the job industry participants have continued to perform through the tough times forced on by COVID-19.
“It has been a remarkable effort from all in the industry to continue to safely provide greyhound racing through the pandemic and it is fantastic to see feature race prizemoney return to standard levels for the upcoming carnival,” he said.
It is interesting to note that both the Bogie Leigh Queensland Futurity and the Queensland Derby have two defending champions each.
Last year the Group 2 classics were raced twice because of the need to fit both events into the Summer Carnival.
The Derby had two pretty handy winners.
In May the mighty Sennachie won the Derby and in December it was won by Simon Told Helen. Those two greyhounds were arguably the nation’s best two performers last year.
It was likewise with the Futurity. Angela Langton’s Circle Of Dreams won the May staging and Zipping Cosmo (Barry Kitchener) won the race in December.
This year’s Derby and Futurity (both with $60,000 prizemoney) have heats on December 3 and the finals on December 10.
One feature event coming up at Albion Park this month is the Dave Brett Memorial Maiden ($17,800) final on November 26.
In December are the Christmas Stocking ($12,600) and the Middle Distance Challenge Final ($12,600) on Christmas Eve and on December 31 is the New Year’s Trophy ($12,600).
In January are the Golden Sands Final (G2, $60,000), the Summer Masters (520m, $12,600) the Golden Ticket final (G3 37,500), the Australia Day Trophy (520m $12,600) and the Clem Jones Cup (710m $22,000).
They all lead into the hottest of February racing with the Gold Bullion and the Gold Cup.
Meanwhile, across town at Capalaba the bayside straight track will also be busy leading up to the end of December.
This month features the Capelbourne Cup ($2020) on Melbourne Cup day; followed by the Capalaba Futurity and Derby, both with $7875 money and finals on November 15, and Friday and Sunday meetings on November 20 and 22.
Caption: Sennachie was a major success story from the last Summer Carnival (Photo: Box 1 Photography)