Racing Queensland has announced a $1 million prize money increase for the harness code from next week.
Late last year, the Queensland Government and RQ agreed to co-fund a $2 million increase for the code – these funds were in addition to the $200,000 increase in drivers’ fees which commenced in August - to progress industry viability concerns, boost grassroots participation and improve cash flow for participants and owners.
At the same time, RQ offered an additional $1 million in 2019 following the adoption of reform measures to provide a total increase of $3 million across the financial year.
“As an industry, we were committed to delivering reform measures and enhancing our viability, long-term sustainability and competitiveness with other racing jurisdictions,” RQ Chairman Steve Wilson said.
“Over the past six months, significant progress has been achieved, and while more work still needs to take place, I look forward to further progress as we deliver on our strategic and commercial priorities.”
As part of the announcement, the Sunshine Sprint will rise to $100k and will return to Group 1 status, while the prize money increase will deliver a number of other initiatives. They include:
- All standard Friday races increase to minimum $6,500;
- All standard Tuesday races increase to minimum $8,000;
- Minimum stakes for Redcliffe Wednesday and Thursday meetings increased to $4,000 (+14%);
- $500 drought subsidy to be continued through the payment of the in-foal rebate for standardbred mares bred in Queensland who achieve a 42-day positive pregnancy test (maximum of six mares per breeder);
- Ninth race added to the majority of Thursday programs;
- Saturday night $20k features to be programed more frequently;
- Marburg to Albion Park finals increased to a minimum $10k;
- Blacks A Fake increased to $250k;
- Darrell Alexander Memorial Trotting Championship elevated to Group 1 offering stakes of $50k;
- Redcliffe Cup elevated to Group 2 offering stakes of $50k; and
- Queensland Trotters Cup elevated to Group 1 offering stakes of $50k.
RQ recently announced that it would fund insurance for participants in 2019 and 2020 and increase the regularity of grassroots racing opportunities on Sundays to twice monthly as it continues its drive to ensure the long-term viability and sustainability of the code.
During the current financial year, wagering revenue on Queensland product has increased by more than 5%, while individual and total starters are up 4%.
Total turnover remains on track to break last year’s record, with a 10% uplift since the beginning of the 2017/18 financial year.
RQ CEO Brendan Parnell was upbeat about the uplift and said he looked forward to more good news in the near future.
“By allocating funds in such a broad manner across all three codes, RQ aims to drive improved field sizes which benefits wagering revenues which underpin our industry,” Mr Parnell said.
The prizemoney enhancements will commence from June 17.