The Queensland Derby and Queensland Oaks at Albion Park Harness Racing Club will be returned to their rightful status as Group 1 Classics worth $100,000 each from 2019, thanks to Racing Queensland’s new partnership with Tabcorp.
Racing Queensland Chief Operating Officer Adam Wallish said the increases were just one example of the benefits the new partnership between Racing Queensland and wagering provider TAB would deliver.
“These increases give our local trainers and owners two more chances to claim Group 1 glory,” Mr Wallish said.
“The move also aims to bolster southern participation, which contributed largely to Racing Queensland’s record wagering figures on TAB Blacks A Fake and Sunshine Sprint nights in 2018.”
Tabcorp Head of Wagering in Queensland, Sean Scott, said race clubs across Queensland would benefit from the new partnership.
“There is excitement building in racing and wagering in Queensland and we’re thrilled to be a part of it. The transition from UBET to TAB continues and we’re confident punters will love what TAB will bring to the Sunshine State,” he said.
The TAB Queensland Oaks will be run at Albion Park in conjunction with the G2 Sunshine Sprint on 13 July 2019. The TAB Queensland Derby will be held on TAB Blacks A Fake Night on 20 July 2019, alongside the G1 QBRED 2YO Triad Finals and the $200,000 TAB Blacks A Fake.
Albion Park Harness Racing Club Chairman David Fowler said the increases would be of significant benefit to his club and the entire Queensland industry.
“The Queensland Winter Carnival will now feature six Group 1 races including four on the final night of the carnival at Albion Park. That’s a feat the Queensland harness industry can be proud of,” Mr Fowler said.
Queensland’s principal harness race caller Chris Barsby welcomed the news.
“This is outstanding news because it really solidifies that Brisbane is the place to be during winter. As we know a lot of southerners like to head up and get into the warmer climate, but now with the extra prize money I think we’ll see a lot more interstaters heading this way,” he said.
Trainer Kylie Rasmussen won the 2011 Queensland Oaks with outstanding mare, Forever Gold, and will be have Group 1-winning filly Smart As Camm Be set for the 2019 TAB Queensland Oaks.
“Most people when they buy a young horse have big dreams and if they can win an Oaks or a Derby that’s something very special,” she said.
“To have the Derby and the Oaks back to Group 1, and more importantly, back to $100,000 races is just wonderful for Queensland.”
Rasmussen said the recent $2 million prize money increases for harness were a welcomed lift to the industry.
“The more prize money we can have spread over the board so as everybody gets a bit more is what the industry needs,” she said.
“The QBRED scheme is back on target and looking really positive, especially now that you can win bonuses as an older horse.”
Racing Queensland Harness Strategy and Development Manager David Brick said he looked forward to further announcements regarding the make-up of the carnival over the coming weeks and months.
“These increases complement the $10,000 TAB Grand Final bonuses being offered to the winners of any Grand Circuit race during the 2018/19 season that then race in the TAB Blacks A Fake in July,” he said.