By Racing Queensland CEO BRENDAN PARNELL
The Queensland racing industry continues to deal with the challenges of COVID-19.
Nonetheless, we have made small but meaningful strides in recent times including the staged return of patrons on-course in greater numbers.
Having received approval from the state’s Chief Health Officer, Dr Jeannette Young, the amended Industry COVIDSafe Plan for the Queensland racing industry caters for the maximum occupancy to be solely based on the size of the public area and the 4 square metre rule (ie: no more than one person per 4 square metres across the venue).
The Plan’s key principles continue to include:
- Specified physical distancing and density requirements (1.5 metres away from other persons and avoiding handshaking and other greetings);
- The encouragement of hand and respiratory hygiene;
- Frequent cleaning and disinfection;
- The exclusion of persons who display symptoms of COVID-19; and
- The collection of contact information of all workers and visitors for tracing purposes (noting the COVID Safe app is not an alternative to this requirement).
As communicated to clubs, border controls have been wound back and inter-state nominations are now being accepted from kennels that are not based in COVID-19 hotspots.
I need to stress, however that at all times, the Plan is subject to regulations, guidelines and directives issued by the Chief Health Officer, and any changes that may be made to the Queensland Government’s Roadmap to easing Queensland’s restrictions.
During this time, stakeholders in the Queensland greyhound industry are to be applauded for their combined efforts to ensure racing continuity, despite the impact of COVID-19.
But the job is far from over.
The risk remains real and I implore all industry participants to continue to strongly support the on-course protocols and to look after their health and wellbeing away from our venues.
As always, the latest COVIDSafe information can be found via the RQ website: http://bit.ly/RQCOVID19.
Queensland winter racing features
Having implemented a raft of strict biosecurity measures as a result of COVID-19, including designated racing regions across the state, RQ was unable to stage its traditional winter carnival this year.
Nonetheless, limited feature racing was able to occur, with reduced inter-state participation due to border closures and associated activity.
From a nomination perspective, the Group 1 Brisbane Cup was the highlight of our winter features, with some of the best greyhounds in the nation including Simon Told Helen, Hooked On Scotch, and Black Opium on hand at Albion Park.
Despite being run at significantly reduced prize money levels – and being catered primarily for Queensland participants – our wagering performance exceeded all expectations.
On a year-on-year basis, turnover on our meetings on June 4, June 25 and July 2 was up 41%, while revenue was up 29%.
National Championships head to Queensland
The Queensland Sprint, Distance, and Straight Track Championships will be held at Albion Park and Capalaba this month.
Unfortunately, there will be no National Finals this year, but it is still important that we acknowledge the best in each state.
The Queensland Sprint and Distance Championships will be held at Albion Park with heats for both events on Thursday, August 6, and the finals on Thursday, August 13.
To be eligible, greyhounds must have been domiciled in Queensland on or before May 22, 2020.
The Sprint and Distance Finals are worth $22,000 total prizemoney and will be showcased on Sky Racing.
Nominations close at RQ at 9.30am on Tuesday, August 4.
The Queensland Straight Track Championship will be held at Capalaba with heats on Sunday, August 2, and the Final on Sunday, August 9.
To be eligible, greyhounds must have been domiciled in Queensland on or before May 4, 2020.
The Queensland Straight Track Final is worth $7,875 in total prizemoney.
Nominations close at RQ at 9.30am on Thursday, July 30.
National Greyhound rules review
Greyhound Australasia has completed its review of the National Greyhound Rules and is now rolling out a four-phased consultation process.
The primary reasons behind the review were to:
- Improve the structure of the GARs;
- Make the GARs easier to read for people in the greyhound racing industry;
- Simplify and/or modernise the language used in the rules where possible; and
- Ensure key welfare and integrity obligations, currently adopted locally, are included in the national framework.
From a Queensland perspective, the first phase will include RQ, the Queensland Racing Integrity Commission, RSPCA, Queensland greyhound racing clubs and the Queensland Greyhound Breeders Owners and Trainers Association.
A further comprehensive opportunity will be granted to all industry participants in the next phase of consultation.
Rockhampton rail replacement
The long-awaited rail works will commence at the Rockhampton Greyhound Racing Club this month.
An RQ audit found significant corrosion had occurred along the rail, which required a long-term solution, but the works were delayed upon the onset of COVID-19.
Whilst the replacement of the rail is the central piece of work, RQ and the club will work together to up-grade the irrigation system and undertake a full renovation of the racing surface at the same time.
Race meetings scheduled at Rockhampton for August 19, 26 and September 2 have been re-scheduled for Capalaba and Bundaberg.
Townsville Cup on the horizon
Finally, the Group 3 Townsville Cup Final on August 28 will again be showcased in the Friday evening slot.
Heats are set down for August 21 and no doubt the club will be looking to build on the 2019 result which was highlighted by strong nominations and outstanding wagering results.
In recent months, Townsville has benefited from a second weekly race meeting which continues to be trialled on Friday afternoons, with nomination and wagering support gradually increasing.
The trail commenced on May 28 and concludes at the end of August, with RQ and the Townsville Greyhound Racing Club to review the trial period.