Summer heat about to spark Winter ‘fire’

\"\"Caption: Brisbane Greyhound Racing Club boss Luke Gatehouse at the launch of the 2021 TAB Queensland Winter Racing Carnival (Photo: Box 1 Photography)

By TERRY WILSON

BRISBANE Greyhound Racing Club boss Luke Gatehouse believes the heat generated by the Summer Carnival in February will carry over to what he thinks will be a sensational Winter Carnival coming up at headquarters.

“We’re set for a crackerjack carnival on paper. It’s sealed to deliver something pretty special,” said club chief executive Gatehouse.

The Winter Carnival started in late May and will go on until next month and overall prizemoney has been set at $1.3 million, headed by the world’s fourth richest event, the Sky Racing Brisbane Cup (520m) with its $375,000 overall purse.

This is the sort of money that is sure to attract the cream of the national greyhounds.

Gatehouse acknowledges the class that should be heading from interstate to Albion Park looking for places in the Group 1 Brisbane Cup final on July 8, a night that also includes the G1 Queensland Cup (710m).

“We will be challenging the best dogs and bitches from around Australia coming to take our cash but I’m pretty parochial and I’d love to see as much of that prizemoney stay at home,” he said.

Black Opium won the Brisbane Cup last year for Tony Brett after it was sent north by Victorian conditioner Jason Thompson amid the COVID-19 pandemic.

With that medical scourge seemingly disappearing now, interstate entries look certain to be plentiful this time around.

“Last year was a year which was dampened, almost claustrophobic at times in April and May, when we didn’t know what we would be holding in June and July, and we didn’t have an Origin,” said Gatehouse.

“But we’re back with a bang with Sky Racing sponsoring the fourth richest greyhound race in the world, the Brisbane Cup.”

Gatehouse pointed to massive wagering on the G1 Gold Bullion, which was won by Victorian Shima Shine, as indicative of the major upturn in greyhound racing interest.

For one night’s racing betting turnover was $5 million, a record for a single meeting on Gold Bullion night.

And for the Bullion final betting turnover topped the $900,000 mark, also a record.

Those numbers are something that the Brisbane club can hang its hat on.

“The club delivers 2300 races per year across 210 race meetings and a tick over 16,000 starters per year,” said Gatehouse.

“It was a scaled-back carnival last year due to COVID, but we were still able to attract some great top-liners to the Brisbane Cup last year with Black Opium winning her maiden Group 1.

“Despite the challenge of COVID interest in greyhound racing has never been higher.

“Our wagering turnover during that COVID period at Albion Park was up by 40 per cent across all our wagering providers.

“Now we’re now on track to surpass $500 million dollars – half  a billion dollars – in turnover this financial year, which is an amazing amount of money.”

Not surprisingly Gatehouse nominates the Winter Carnival blockbuster attraction, finals Super Night on July 8, as his favourite event.

But the entire Carnival, starting with the G2 Flying Amy classic(512m) and the Listed Dashing Corsair (710m), going through the State Of Origin and on to the Brisbane and Queensland Cups, is definitely something special, he says.

“Super Night continues to grow and will be highlighted by the four-dog invitation Super Stayers over the 710 metres.

“But we also have feature races over every race distance here at Albion Park (over five different starting boxes) on the night.

“But leading into main night we have a great race for the young greyhounds, the Flying Amy Classic, a Group 2 for the first time this year.

“When I first started here that race was worth $8000 in total prizemoney. This year it has $110,000 in prizemoney.”

That is a decent upgrade in anyone’s language and is indicative of the tremendous growth in the industry over the past decade or so.

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