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More feature racing on offer in North Queensland this winter

4 August 2022

By Jordan Gerrans

North Queensland stables are salivating at the prospect of another feature race being added to the carnival at Townsville’s Cluden Park this Saturday afternoon.

Following an enormous number of nominations for the time-honoured Cleveland Bay Handicap, the decision was made earlier this week to add a Consolation Race to the program for Saturday.

The Cleveland Bay – which is often referred to as the Stradbroke Handicap of North Queensland – received record entries of 37 gallopers earlier this week when nominations were called.

With the $100,000 1300 metre event having a field limit of 16, a large number of high-level sprinters were set to miss out on a run.

Following the sizeable interest in the feature event, the Cape Cleveland, which will be run for $50,000, has been added to Saturday’s race program to cater for those horses missing out on a start.

Innisfail-based trainer Krystin Allender will now have her stable star – Inching Closer – head towards the Cape Cleveland following the decision.

"It is really exciting for all members of the racing industry in North Queensland that a new race like this has been created on Townsville Cup day," Allender said.

“Inching Closer would have missed a run on Saturday after being an emergency in the Cleveland Bay if this new race were not created.

“To have another big prize money feature race on Townsville Cup day is great.”

Bay gelding Inching Closer continues his racing in the 2022 TAB Northern Queensland Winter Racing Carnival after featuring in the Mackay Newmarket last month.

Townsville Turf Club President Malcolm Petrofski applauded Racing Queensland for taking such a proactive step in rewarding not only the club, but the entire North Queensland racing industry for their ongoing support.

“It is an absolute honour and privilege for the Townsville Turf Club to receive this level of support and faith in North Queensland racing, a huge vote of confidence in our industry stakeholders, our racing, as well as our track and facilities from Racing Queensland,” Petrofski said.

“Our great club wouldn’t be able to operate without our local owners and trainers who continue to show their support, in helping to provide record racing participation at the hub of racing in North Queensland, being Cluden Park Townsville.

“We haven’t seen these sorts of numbers in the nominations for many years if at all.

“It is a great sign that the racing industry is bouncing back in the regions and our carnival is high on everyone’s list.

“We have horses entered from here in Townsville, Cairns and the Atherton Tablelands, Mackay, Rockhampton, the western districts and from as far away as the South East of the state.

“That level of support is just amazing and we’re extremely grateful to all of the owners and trainers who are planning on running their horses at Cluden Park this week.

“We’re looking forward to some of the best racing we’ve seen at Cluden in years.”

Sky Racing form expert Michael Charge also applauded the introduction of the new race, referring to it as “unprecedented”.

The Cairns-based stable of Trevor Rowe was another who was set to miss out on a run in the Cleveland Bay.

But, Rowe’s Love Express will now be able to enjoy a low barrier draw in the new race.

"The new race - the Cape Cleveland – is great for all trainers, jockeys and owners in North Queensland,” stable representative Peter Rowe said.

“Love Express is a horse that has gone close in all four runs this preparation and we are looking forward to seeing him in the new race on Saturday.

“To have another big prize money feature race on Townsville Cup day is great.”

The first Cape Cleveland will run with a capacity field. 

The Townsville Turf Club received a total of 367 entries for 16 races across Lightning Handicap day (175) on Thursday and Cup day (192) on Saturday. 

Staged from July 8 to September 10, the Northern Carnival includes five Cup races staged across Rockhampton, Mackay, Townsville, Cairns and FNQ Amateurs, with each carrying a purse of $150,000.