By Racing Queensland CEO BRENDAN PARNELL
As we enter our third month of COVID-19 conditions, the health and wellbeing of the Queensland racing industry continues to motivate and drive us.
The end, however, is far from over and we cannot take our current circumstances for granted.
With the approval of Queensland’s Chief Health Officer, Dr Jeannette Young, RQ recently consolidated its designated racing regions, amalgamating South East Queensland and Wide Bay to form a new ‘South Queensland Region.’
For now, the Central Queensland and North Queensland regions remain untouched.
With the Queensland Government recently announcing its staged approach to easing restrictions, RQ has endeavoured to align our timelines with those of the Government.
A further review is expected to take place ahead of Queensland successfully advancing to Stage 2 of the Government’s roadmap.
In the meantime, I once again take the opportunity to extend my appreciation to participants for the efforts that have been applied thus far in order for the Queensland racing industry to continue.
Without the strong levels of compliance, cooperation and support that has been adhered to by our stakeholders, we would not have been able to continue to deliver the important financial, economic and welfare contributions that have been achieved.
As we enter flu season, it is increasingly important that we remain strongly committed and vigilant to our social distancing, hygiene and other biosecurity protocols.
I would encourage all essential race meeting attendees (excluding those with medical exemptions) to consider the flu vaccine, and if at any stage you are not feeling well or are displaying COVID-19 like symptoms, to not attend race meetings or trials.
Winter feature racing
The first of the Queensland winter racing features has been run and won with the Laurence Thomas-trained Belli Ultra putting in an impressive performance to win the listed Bundaberg Cup.
Tony Zammit also found himself in the winners’ circle when Frieda Las Vegas secured the Winged Runner Trophy at Albion Park to reaffirm her reputation as one of the state’s most impressive stayers.
In the Capalaba Cup, Hara’s Clyde, who gunned down track specialist Never Walk Alone, secured the trophy for Tony Brett for the first time.
While more recently, Zammit tasted further success when Oh Mickey put the afterburners on to clinch the Young Guns Final in a sizzling 29.59, downing Hara’s Clyde by nine lengths.
Over the coming months, the Flying Amy, Rockhampton Cup, Super Sprinters and Super Stayers are all scheduled to take place, with the Brisbane Cup headlining next month’s features.
Townsville greyhounds ready to jump
RQ has commenced a three-month trial which will see a second greyhound meeting conducted in Townsville each week.
With greyhound meetings currently taking place at the Townsville Showgrounds every Tuesday night, RQ commenced programming an additional Friday afternoon meeting from May 29 after securing a timeslot on Sky Racing.
The trial will run through until the end of August before being reassessed.
In recent times, Townsville’s nomination flow, wagering performance and geographic independence has warranted an additional meeting.
We’re grateful to Sky Racing for their assistance in supporting the trial.
Note of appreciation
A little further down the coast and Bundaberg Greyhound Racing Club Chairman David Plummer recently announced his resignation from the club committee for health reasons.
David has provided sterling leadership at the Bundaberg Club and shouldered the responsibility of taking the club out of RQ administration through to its current status as a TAB venue.
David has led a hardworking committee and management structure at Bundaberg with the club going from strength-to-strength over the past 18 months and I congratulate and thank him for his contribution.
I understand that David will continue to be a regular face at Bundaberg as he races a small but successful team of greyhounds and concentrates on his health.
Vale Kaye Taylor
Finally, we were saddened to learn of the recent passing of Rockhampton greyhound identity Kaye Taylor.
The Taylor family is well known throughout Central Queensland – and the state more broadly – with racing well and truly in their DNA.
Kaye’s husband, Donnie, drove more than 1000 winners during his time as a harness driver in Rockhampton and recently passed away as well.
Both the harness and greyhound codes are poorer for their loss.
Over the years, Donnie’s feats in the sulky were exceptional, while Kaye made an impact across both codes as an administrator, trainer and owner.
In 2015, Kaye and her son, Darren, came within a whisker of representing Queensland at the National Distance Championships at Wentworth Park.
Contesting the Queensland Final at Albion Park, Cosmic Waters was edged out by Mullaway by 0.01 in a heart-stopping finish.
Despite the outcome, Darren recently described it as Kaye’s proudest moment in greyhound racing.
RQ extends its condolences to the Taylor family.