By Racing Queensland Chief Executive Officer BRENDAN PARNELL
Once again, COVID-19 has presented its challenges, with Brisbane and surrounding local government areas forced into another snap lockdown at the back end of March and into early April.
Although race meetings were able to proceed, RQ was required to act swiftly in ensuring our affected clubs were following the required Queensland Health directives.
Albeit short-lived, the lockdown period has once again served as a timely reminder as to how quickly circumstances related to the COVID-19 pandemic can change, and how we as an industry must continually adapt at short notice.
We appreciate everyone’s continued co-operation as we collectively navigate our way through these challenges.
RQ unveils Queensland Winter Greyhound Racing Carnival
RQ recently unveiled its 2021 TAB Queensland Winter Greyhound Racing Carnival.
After limited feature racing was held last year, the Winter Carnival returns with 14 Group and Listed races, as well as $1.3 million in total prizemoney.
The centrepiece of the Winter Carnival will once again take place at Albion Park on July 8, with the $375,000 Group 1 Sky Racing Brisbane Cup expected to attract the nation’s biggest stars.
The feature evening will also host the $150,000 TAB Queensland Cup, making it one of Australian greyhound racing’s biggest nights, with more than $600,000 in total prizemoney up for grabs.
In the lead-up to the Brisbane Cup, the Origin greyhound series returns on June 17 with two $60,000 Group 3 races – the Origin Sprint and Origin Distance – where competing dogs will be selected by Queensland and NSW respectively.
The evening will also feature the Listed Origin Match Race, Regional Origin Challenge and Queensland Emerging Origin Stars (all run over 520 metres).
After last year’s disruptions, we are looking forward to welcoming back the Winter Carnival this year, and working with Luke and everyone at the Brisbane Greyhound Racing Club to deliver a successful program of feature racing.
It remains our aim to position Queensland as the place to chase throughout the winter months, and this program ensures that all eyes will be on the Sunshine State.
TAB to play a starring role this winter
Ahead of our up-coming Winter Carnivals, many eagle-eyed readers would have seen News Corp’s state-wide publications turn from red to green with TAB once again partnering their highly popular form guides.
As many in the industry would appreciate, TAB plays a significant role in Queensland beyond industry funding through its sponsorship arrangements and on-course amenities.
This includes TAB’s synonymous branding adorning winning posts and betting terminals across the state.
Just as importantly, TAB gives back almost three times more than its industry competitors for each dollar bet on Queensland races, highlighting the critical role it plays in the sustainability of our industry.
Greyhound Adoption Program Open Day
Last month, the GAP Queensland program hosted their 2021 GAP Greyhound National Adoption and Open Day at its facility in Churchable.
By all reports, the day was a fantastic success, headed up by operations manager Leah Handy.
Leah and her team continue to do a fantastic job in the adoption space, as we continue to see significant growth in the number of retired racers who go on to find their forever homes.
It is vital to the industry’s sustainability that programs like the GAP exist, and we continue to encourage our trainers and industry participants to utilise the program when retiring their race dogs.
More inter-state success for Queensland
We continue to see great success for our Queensland dogs making the trip inter-state, with Farmor Beach and Maggie Moo Moo most recently flying the flag for the Sunshine State.
Wayne Scott’s Farmor Beach qualified through to the Group 1 Golden Easter Egg Final at Wentworth Park, after successfully navigating his way through both heat and semi-finals.
Unfortunately, the Final didn’t pan out as planned for the Queensland Greyhound of the Year finalist, however, the team must still be congratulated on reaching the Final of one of the nation’s most prestigious Group 1 events.
On the same card, Maggie Moo Moo for Darren Johnstone lined up in the Group 1 Association Cup Final for stayers after finishing second in her semi-final the week prior.
The star stayer ran an almighty race, closing hard in a blanket finish for fourth, after sitting at the tail of the field for the entirety of the first lap.
As mentioned last month, we continue to see a number of our best greyhounds measure up on the national stage, and we look forward to seeing that growing trend continue.
Finish On Lure
Finally, the Finish On Lure will return to selected race meetings at Albion Park commencing this month, after it was indefinitely suspended in March 2020 due to the impact of COVID-19.
Following several months of extremely low rates of COVID-19 community transmission, it has been determined by RQ, the Brisbane Greyhound Racing Club, and the Queensland Racing Integrity Commission, that a safe return of the FOL to race meetings is now possible.
The FOL will return in its previous format with four race meetings per month at Albion Park, operating fortnightly on a rotating basis between the Sunday, Monday, and Wednesday race meetings.
The first meeting back will be the Albion Park Sunday meeting on May 2, followed by another FOL meeting on Sunday, May 9.