By MIKE HILL
WITH a bit of luck next month\’s $37,500 Group 3 Weseal Townsville Cup (498m) will have some interstate runners and on-course spectators.
That\’s the hope of club president Gary Heath.
The Townsville boss was upbeat as he and his committee prepared for the club\’s big annual carnival (Cup heats August 21, final August 28).
With Racing Queensland last month lifting its regional lockdown, Heath said he was expecting some leading Brisbane trainers to target the Cup.
\”We could even have a couple of quality Melbourne dogs in the series if the state border is reopened in time,\” he said.
\”Some local trainers were hoping for a Cup restricted to northern zone trained dogs only, but in the club\’s interest it\’s better that it is an open event.
\”It\’s a Group 3 race and carries more prestige if the better dogs are racing.\”
Heath said the club had already received interest from southern trainers wanting to bring their dogs north for the carnival.
\”Trainers from Brisbane and even interstate have been in contact with us asking about accommodation,\” he said.
\”And this year we are encouraging them to bring their caravans and stay for the two-week carnival.
\”For the first time trainers will be able camp at the Town and Country Caravan Park in the Showgrounds.
\”And if they don\’t have a van, they can rent on-site cabins and vans.
\”We just want them to come up and stay for the entire carnival.
\”As well as the Cup, we have the $7875 Cup Consolation, the $7875 North Queensland Sprint over 380 metres, the $3675 Maiden 1000, also over the short course, and the All Colour event sponsored by the Taylor family.
\”The all-colour race, staged for the first time last year, is for all non-black dogs.
\”It\’s a great spectacle and is open to the best eight dogs nominated.\”
With the Queensland Government gradually allowing spectators back to sporting events, Heath\’s hopeful patrons will be allowed back on track by next month.
Meetings during the current COVID-19 lockdown have been patron-free.
He also announced that the club had a new major Cup sponsor – Townsville civil construction firm Weseal.
Meanwhile, RQ has introduced a second weekly meeting – on Fridays – at the Townsville track.
The three-month trial , which began in late May, will run until late August when it will be reassessed.
RQ Chief Operating Officer Adam Wallish said Townsville\’s recent nominations; its geographic independence as a growing greyhound centre; and wagering performance had warranted a second meeting, with the organisation able to secure a timeslot through SKY for the next three months.
\”The Townsville greyhound industry is a vibrant and active member of the North Queensland community,\” Mr Wallish said.
\”On an annual basis, it contributes more than $5 million to the Townsville economy.\”
Heath said RQ\’s decision was warmly welcomed in North Queensland.
\”Support from local trainers and the local community continues to build in Townsville and we see the second race meeting opportunity as another step in the sport’s ongoing growth in this region,\” he said.
\”The club and the local training fraternity will be doing everything in their power to ensure the trial period is a success for local greyhound racing and the wider industry.
\”I definitely want it to succeed.\”
He said more and more dogs were coming to the region and the extra weekly meeting was a vote of confidence for the industry and the club.
\”Although we\’re still not getting maximum nominations for both meetings, I\’m confident that will come,\” Heath said.