By MIKE HILL
\”WE have to remember we are very lucky just to be racing,\” says Rockhampton greyhound club president Nev Jackson.
As communities across the nation try to come to grips with the difficulties of the coronavirus lockdown, Rockhampton is preparing for next month\’s annual Cup Carnival.
But it will be one like no other.
Queensland has been divided into zones and trainers can only race their dogs in their designated zone – for Rockhampton trainers, that\’s the Central region.
\”With the Cup final on a Friday night for the first time, and no spectators, no visiting trainers and reduced prizemoney, it\’s going to be a different carnival,\” said Jackson.
He said it was a pity the club wouldn\’t be in a position to gauge public support for the Cup day change.
Rockhampton usually races on Wednesday nights but Racing Queensland, with the support of the club, decided to go for a Friday night Cup series this year.
Heats will be run at a twilight meeting on Friday, June 5, with the final on Friday night, June 12.
\”We believed the change would have been a huge boost crowd-wise,\” said Jackson. \”But we\’ll never know.\”
\”The decision to change the Cup day was made well before we knew anything about coronavirus.
\”Unless there is a complete turnaround by the government before June 1, and I don\’t think that will happen, it\’s going to be a patrons-free carnival,\” Jackson said.
\”At least we\’re racing.\”
As has been the case with other feature races in Queensland in recent months, prizemoney has been reduced from $37,500 to $27,250 for the Rockhampton Cup (510m).
Winning connections will take home $17,500, down from last year\’s figure of $25,000.
\”I\’m expecting only two heats for the Cup,\” Jackson said.
\”We don\’t have many 500m dogs in our zone.\”
Meanwhile, the club boss said he wasn\’t sure when planned track improvement work would begin.