By Racing Queensland Chief Executive Officer BRENDAN PARNELL
I wanted to start by addressing a very important matter as the industry navigates its way out of the COVID-19 pandemic.
As I have mentioned in this column previously, our industry and its participants continue to do a stellar job in adhering to the ever-changing landscape that this pandemic presents, and that continued understanding has allowed racing to continue throughout.
I want to now take this opportunity to encourage all industry participants to get vaccinated as soon as possible, if they are eligible to do so.
At this stage, RQ is not mandating vaccination, however we want to ensure that we take measures to demonstrate that RQ is safeguarding the industry, its participants and the wider community, if this added measure becomes necessary for racing to continue operating in the event of any future COVID-19 outbreaks and lockdowns.
We are conscious that current interstate movement for work is permitted based on having been partially or fully vaccinated and that future interstate industry participation would likely necessitate restriction to vaccinated persons only.
Finally, there are no plans for RQ to set-up racing industry pop-up vaccination clinics at this time, given the Government has to manage supply and demand for the wider community.
Participants are encouraged to take up the options available to the community now.
RQ confirmed as TAB The Phoenix slot holder
It was an honour to learn in September that Queensland will be represented in the inaugural running of the $1.145 million TAB The Phoenix.
RQ was announced as one of eight slot holders in the million-dollar Victorian greyhound feature, which will be staged at The Meadows on December 18 and includes $750,000 to the winner.
We have seen other codes utilise the slot holder concept to great success, and we are excited to be a part of The Phoenix from its inception.
Over the past year, we have seen a number of Queensland stars emerge, including the Tony Brett-trained Orchestrate and Extra Malt for Graham and Leanne Hall just to name two.
We know that whoever is chosen will represent Queensland with pride, and we look forward to announcing our own pathway into the event in the Sunshine State.
The final field for TAB The Phoenix will be confirmed on Friday, December 10, before the box draw held on Sunday, December 12.
More details regarding Racing Queensland’s involvement and selection process will be released over the coming weeks.
Townsville Cup shines
Congratulations to up-and-coming trainer Matt Heilbronn on claiming the first Group race of his career with a captivating performance by Dulceria in the Group 3 Townsville Cup last month.
In what looked a race in two for the majority of the event, the $11 chance sat outside the lead before a commanding sprint in the home straight to take out the feature.
The evening also hosted both a sprint and stayers challenge, as well as a cup consolation race, and I congratulate the Club for what was a stellar night of greyhound racing by all reports.
Earlier this year, we announced a prizemoney increase for the Cup winner to $40,000, up from $25,000.
As a part of the announcement, it was also confirmed that the race would reach Group 2 status by 2023, in what is a fantastic result for all involved at the club.
Ipswich Puppy Auction returns
This month, we welcome the return of the Ipswich Puppy Auction for 2021, to be held on October 10.
For this year’s Auction, the Ipswich Greyhound Racing Club has determined to amend the entry conditions to deliver an improved experience for both buyers and sellers.
The major change is that sellers have the option to either buy-in to the Auction Series race events, or to go through the Auction sales in order to qualify.
This will eliminate issues in previous years where pups were entered into the Auction to be bought back by the seller, and, in most cases, were not for sale to the general public at any price.
Further, the Club has incentivised sellers to put their pups up for sale by offering a breeding bonus of $7,000 if the winning chaser is sold at the Auction.
The Club has confirmed more than 40 greyhounds will be presented for sale at the Auction, while a further 66 will be eligible for the Auction race events, having been entered as owner/breeder buy ins.
I extend my congratulations to the Ipswich Greyhound Racing Club for their hard work in putting on this year’s Auction and wish them all the best on the day.
Greater Brisbane Greyhound Centre update
Finally, I’m pleased to report that the planning approval process for the Greater Brisbane Greyhound Centre continues with great momentum.
Over the last two months, a number of community and industry stakeholder consultation sessions were conducted, resulting in excellent feedback.
In particular, the industry briefing at Ipswich in early September allowed for a deep dive on masterplanning, track preferences, customer, participants and greyhound service needs.
The project team came away with impressive insight which will be called upon as the final design plans are progressed.