By Racing Queensland Chief
The 2020/21 racing season has started with a flurry of activity.
Late last month, Sky Racing was announced as the ‘home of Queensland racing’ for the next decade after securing a new 10-year deal.
Over the past 12 months, Racing Queensland had undertaken extensive market testing before securing the new broadcast agreement which includes a significant financial uplift for the state’s thoroughbred, greyhound and harness clubs.
The tri-code deal is believed to be the first of its kind among Australia’s major racing jurisdictions.
Throughout market testing, there were a number of outcomes we were determined to achieve – most notably increased distribution, showcasing and revenue – and that’s exactly what we were able to achieve.
Further announcements are expected before the end of the calendar year.
New Queensland greyhound meetings
RQ has commenced programming two new greyhound meetings throughout 2020/21 in Townsville and Capalaba.
Having commenced a three-month trial for a second weekly meeting in Townsville in late June, RQ recently announced that this would now be ongoing with coverage secured through Sky Racing.
Townsville will 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 additional meetings will inject almost $2 million in additional prize money into Queensland greyhound racing.
Capalaba staged its first meeting on Friday, August 14, with Townsville hosting its first ‘matinee’ meeting on Saturday, August 15, and commenced with solid wagering performance.
In recent times, Townsville and Capalaba have enjoyed strong nominations, with each club averaging 107 greyhounds per meeting throughout 2019/20.
Since converting Capalaba from non-TAB to TAB in late 2018, the SEQ club has gone from strength to strength, and with RQ and inter-state PRAs exploring further opportunities to increase straight track racing, a second meeting at Capalaba every other week is expected to be well received.
Vale Emma Bryant
I was saddened to learn of the recent passing of Emma Bryant following a long running battle with cancer.
For the past four decades, Emma has been synonymous with greyhound racing in North Queensland, commencing her training career in the early 80s before going on to serve as a well-respected administrator.
Emma enjoyed a long-standing association with the Cairns Greyhound Racing Club, serving as President and committee member for more than 14 years until its doors closed in 2018.
Emma’s love of the sport began in 1974, after she was invited to attend a greyhound meet at the old Gabba track.
It was there where she met people like Tony Zammit, who is still involved in the industry to this day – and her love affair with the sport was born.
She received her first dog from her sister, Evelyn – who unbeknownst to Emma was also a trainer – named Zara Zip and by 1982 had obtained her trainer’s license.
As a trainer, Emma won her first Cairns Trainer of the Year award in 1998, a crown she went on to claim more than 10 times – most recently in 2018.
I extend my condolences to her partner, Arthur, and her extended family.
Staying Queen waves goodbye
One of Queensland’s best-known greyhounds, staying Queen Velocity Bettina, has run her last race.
A star in the Sunshine State, Velocity Bettina retires with 17 wins and seven placings from just 36 starts and more than $160,000 in prize money.
During that time, she registered victories in the Group 3 Golden Sands, Group 3 Super Stayers, the Dashing Corsair, Ipswich Futurity and the Ipswich Grand Prix.
She was second in the Group 1 Queensland Cup and a finalist in the Group 1 Rookie Rebel, Group 2 Queensland Futurity and Group 3 Ipswich Gold Cup.
We wish her well in retirement.
FY20 provides record-breaking return for Queensland participants
Finally, RQ recently closed out the 2019/20 financial year by delivering record breaking returns to participants.
Having reached a new high of $203 million on a normalised basis last year, RQ eclipsed the mark in FY20 with returns growing by 9.6% to $222.5 million.
While COVID-19 forced the abandonment of RQ’s traditional winter carnivals, prize money savings helped facilitate $7.5 million in hardship and carnival compensation payments for Queensland racing clubs who continued to operate patron-free meetings.
For a successive year, wagering on Queensland races reached a new high, with turnover increasing by $493 million to $4.8 billion – an 11.4% increase.
This included new benchmarks across all codes consisting of:
- Thoroughbreds – $3.3 billion (+9.5%);
- Greyhounds – $1.0 billion (+18.7%); and
- Harness – $0.5 billion (+10.1%).
Full financial – and strategic performance – results will be published in the 2019/20 RQ Annual Report, which is scheduled to be tabled at the end of the month.
Other factors that contributed to RQ’s commercial success included increased starters and field sizes, with revenue on Queensland product increasing by 17.8% to $126 million.
Total revenue grew by 12.1% to $282 million.
With RQ committed to providing increased transparency with wagering revenue, the results can be viewed at www.racingqueensland.com.au, with the organisation publishing the data in its Key Performance Indicators on a quarterly basis.