Racing Queensland has announced its winter programming including 15 Group races across the Metro North and Metro South West regions.
Having implemented a raft of strict biosecurity measures, including five designated racing regions across the state, RQ will provide limited black-type racing over a six-week period throughout May and June.
The existing restrictions limiting jockeys, trainers and other licensed personnel to their designated racing zones will remain in place, however, RQ will now allow conditional horse movement between zones for the purposes of racing.
With patron-free race meetings being conducted across the state, RQ Chairman Steve Wilson AM said the selected features had been developed following industry consultation with clubs, trainers, breeders and owners and would include QTIS bonuses for eligible Queensland horses.
“The Queensland racing industry has done a phenomenal job banding together during this period,” Mr Wilson said.
“The establishment of designated racing regions, and the strict biosecurity measures that we have adopted, has required large-scale changes to our day-to-day operations.
“This is reflective of the Queensland community more broadly and is necessary to ensure the continuation of racing during this unprecedented crisis.
“These are tough times and we must make a collective sacrifice. By programming selected features, we are able to provide enhanced opportunities for our Queensland participants.
“We all know any prize money cuts hurt – these are the salaries and wages that sustain our industry – but we are committed to providing our participants with hope as they navigate the social, economic and health challenges during this turbulent period.
“We are also able to use the coming months to pay homage to a number of Queensland racing greats including Ken Russell, Wayne Wilson, Pam O’Neill, Mick Dittman and JJ Atkins.”
Having committed to a review of the transferal of racing animals between zones after 14 days - click here to see the protocols - RQ will soon allow horses including those from alternate racing zones and inter-state to do so via commercial transport providers.
Horses transferring between existing Queensland zones will be required to do so by 12pm on the day prior to their race, while inter-state horses must have completed their journey prior to acceptance time of their nominated race.
The Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap headlines the Metro North feature races and will be held at Eagle Farm on June 6 alongside the Group 1 JJ Atkins, while the Group 2 Dane Ripper Stakes and The Roses will be staged the following week.
In the Metro South West region, Aquis Park will host the Group 3 Gold Coast Guineas and Ken Russell Memorial on May 16, along with the listed Silk Stocking.
RQ CEO Brendan Parnell said whilst a winter carnival could not proceed, selected feature racing would continue in the Sunshine State on a limited basis.
“It’s important to recognise that this is not business as usual,” Mr Parnell said.
“The absence of the Doomben 10,000, the Derby and the Oaks is evidence of this point, along with feature prize money levels being reduced by more than 75% and black-type racing almost halved.
“At the same time, RQ will programme additional showcase races and meetings for the Central and Northern regions to provide increased opportunities to those parts of the state.
“It is imperative that we all play our role in adhering to the strict biosecurity measures so that racing can continue in Queensland and can support our 40,000 participants.”
Brisbane Racing Club Chairman Neville Bell OAM said the decision would ensure that feature racing would continue in Brisbane in the same way it was held during World War I, the Spanish Influenza outbreak and World War II.
“This is welcome news for Queensland’s racing industry because two weeks ago, like every sport, we were facing the prospect of not being able to hold our feature races,” Mr Bell said.
“Now, BRC members and the wider Queensland racing community can look forward to the likes of the Stradbroke being run which will be a highlight during these times.
“This has been made possible by the way that the industry has worked to strict biosecurity measures in recent weeks with the raceday staff of each club working closely with Racing Queensland and QRIC to ensure our sport continues."
Click here to see Racing Queensland’s black-type races throughout May and June.