Caption: The lids fly open at Capalaba for Race 1 on Wednesday, April 20. It signalled the return to racing for the historic Queensland straight track after the devastating floods in late February. (Photo: Erin Cameron)
By Chase Editor Pat McLeod
At just after 12.49pm on a sunny Wednesday in April the lids pinged on what should have been a low-interest maiden at Capalaba.
But in the long history of this boutique straight track, few events have attracted as much focus and relief.
After seven long weeks, greyhound racing was back!
In a blow that many experienced industry officials consider the worst in the sport’s history in Queensland, both Capalaba and the state’s premier greyhound racing venue, Albion Park, were swamped into submission by the devastating floods of the weekend on February 26-27.
Since then both tracks were closed with Ipswich conducting seven-day-a-week racing to make up the leeway.
“I just had to hold my breath and pray that everything went as it should,” a relieved Capalaba track manager Erin Cameron said after racing resumed on April 20.
“To be back on track is fantastic. It has been a long seven weeks.”
Cameron has led her small army of staff and volunteers in a rescue mission that is not unfamiliar to the flood-prone venue, but one that was frustrated by serious supply chain issues.
“The breakdown of the supply chain was a major problem and slowed the process,” she said. “We were delayed by several weeks just trying to get electrical components. That was really frustrating because the grass came back really well, the track was ready, the grounds were great. We were ready to go, but we just could not get parts.
“And what was positive was how our whole team came together – everyone getting in and getting things done. What they did in the time they did it was unbelievable. Big jobs to little jobs.
“And the support from Racing Queensland and QRIC has been really great. They have been there to help at every turn.”
Not all the pain of the flooding has been erased by the resumption of racing. Cameron said the damage and repair bill to the club was just under $300,000.
“That blow is massive and we can cover those losses, and again, Racing Queensland will help us with that, which is very helpful,” she said.
“But just to be back and racing has lifted everyone’s spirits.”
Cameron said a special thanks needed to go to the club’s track curator Trevor McSherry.
“We would not be where we are without him,” she said. “He is a committee member, volunteer and track curator. He has basically slept at the track. His devotion to what he does is amazing.
“He loves this track and the condition it is in is because of him.”
Race four on that re-opening day program at Capalaba was the ‘Trevor McSherry Appreciation’.
Cameron said another positive from the forced closure was that Capalaba’s worth has been reinforced.
“The value of Capalaba has risen,” she said. “The feedback we have received in recent days really brings that home.
“Capalaba has long been considered as the ‘nursery’ for young greyhounds and so many people have been saying that since we have been off-line.
“Especially now with a lot of pups that are coming through. They are ready. And of course there are a lot of trainers, like myself, who just have straight track dogs. So, we have not raced for seven weeks and that is tough.
“The worth of this track to the entire industry has been reinforced. Everyone has missed it and couldn’t wait to come back.”
That first race back, the Don and Denise Maiden (366m) worth $1495 to the winner, was won by Gloria Falla’s Thornbird.