By MIKE HILL
TOWNSVILLE and Capalaba, two of the fastest growing greyhound venues in Queensland, have been rewarded with extra meetings through to the end of the 2020/21 financial year.
Racing Queensland announced the new racing schedule for both clubs in August.
After launching a three-month trial for a second weekly meeting in Townsville in late June, RQ has confirmed that this will now be ongoing with coverage secured through Sky Racing.
An RQ spokesman said Townsville would continue to conduct its Friday afternoon meetings every fortnight, with Capalaba securing the alternate Friday afternoon meeting.
\”Every other week, Townsville will conduct its second weekly meeting on a Saturday morning, paving the way for new audiences to be introduced to Queensland greyhound racing,\” the spokesman said.
RQ\’s Greyhound Racing Manager Doug Lutherborrow said Capalaba and Townsville were the two fastest growing venues in Queensland greyhound racing with weekly nominations increasing steadily over the past two seasons.
\”An influx of greyhounds to Townsville during their recent three-month trial of Friday meetings successfully demonstrated their capability to race twice per week on an ongoing basis,\” said Lutherborrow.
\”Straight track racing continues to surge in popularity as a safe and exciting form of racing, and Capalaba is no exception with both participants and punters showing their support for the venue since its conversion to TAB in November, 2018.
\”The additional 78 TAB meetings per year between Capalaba and Townsville will generate returns of approximately $1.7m in prizemoney and appearance fees to industry participants.\”
The new racing program kicked off last month with some trainers making major adjustments to their weekend schedule.
With Townsville\’s first race on the Saturday morning at 9am, dogs had to be kennelled between 7.15am and 8.15am and it came as a major shock for one long-time Townsville trainer.
\”I had to get up at 4am to prepare the dogs,\” said Glen Olsen. \”I don\’t have to do that when I go fishing.
\”At least the dogs don\’t know what\’s going on.\”
And for Olsen it wasn\’t all in vain. He picked up a winner when Yellow Heart scored a narrow head victory in the Fifth Grade over 380m.
RQ\’s announcement came as a welcome relief for Townsville Greyhound Racing Club President Gary Heath.
\”It will be warmly received in North Queensland,\” said Heath.
\”The club has experienced a strong nomination flow since beginning its three-month extra meeting trial, along with improving wagering numbers.
\”Greyhound racing has enjoyed exceptional growth in Townsville over the past two years and this decision reflects the support and hard work of local participants.\”
Townsville and Capalaba both averaged 107 greyhounds per meeting throughout the 2019/20 season.
Since converting from non-TAB to TAB in late 2018, Capalaba has gone from strength to strength.
\”The additional racing is really exciting news,\” said Capalaba Greyhound Racing Club President John Catton.
\”Straight track racing is hugely important for the development of youngsters, freshening the more seasoned types and the racing of a pure straight specialist is now very viable.\”
In 2019/20, turnover on Queensland greyhound racing eclipsed $1 billion for the first time, with the unique Saturday matinee meeting expected to draw in new audiences in Australia and across the globe.