The TAB Queensland Racing Carnival will feature a new-look program in 2020 with the addition of a $1.5 million weight-for-age race on Stradbroke Day.
Eagle Farm will again host three consecutive Saturday meetings during the Carnival, culminating in a Stradbroke Day program that will feature the $1.5 million Group 2 EVA Air Q22 (2200m) - formerly known as the O’Shea Stakes - and the $1 million Group 1 JJ Atkins.
Trainer Danny O’Brien has confirmed that 2019 Lexus Melbourne Cup winner, Vow And Declare will be aimed at the inaugural EVA Air Q22 as part of the preparation to defend the Cup crown.
The highlights of the Eagle Farm programs include:
- The $600,000 Group 1 Queensland Derby (2400m) moves forward two weeks to May 23, enabling the Derby field to back-up into the EVA Air Q22;
- The $500,000 Group 1 Treasury Brisbane Queensland Oaks returns to Eagle Farm to highlight the May 30 program. The classic will remain at 2200m and also enable the fillies to contest the EVA Air Q22 seven days later; and
- The $400,000 Group 2 Brisbane Cup returns to 3200m on June 6, providing an attractive option for horses to follow the path blazed by Vow And Declare in Brisbane this year.
Several carnival races will be upgraded and carry ballot-free exemptions into the EVA Air Q22.
These races, known as the EVA Air Q Jumps, include the $250,000 Group 3 EVA Air Lord Mayor’s Cup (1800m) on May 9 and the $350,000 Group 2 EVA Air Queensland Guineas (1600m) on April 25.
“A $1.5 million weight-for-age race on Stradbroke Day is not just an exciting addition to the Queensland racing calendar, but the nation as whole,” Racing Queensland CEO Brendan Parnell said.
“Across the world, the Arc de Triomphe, QEII and the Breeders’ Cup provide fitting finales for their middle-distance horses and we would like to see the EVA Air Q22 fill a similar role in Australia.
“With a new-look program, classic winners can target the Q22, while older horses can do likewise through the Hollindale Stakes or Doomben Cup.”
Brisbane Racing Club CEO, Tony Partridge welcomed the return of Eagle Farm to its traditional spot of three consecutive Saturdays.
He said EVA Air had quickly become a valued supporter of racing in Brisbane.
“Eagle Farm has more than 150 years’ history and its return to the centre of the Carnival provides us with the chance to watch some of the nation’s best horses compete on one of Australia’s most testing tracks,” Mr Partridge said.
“The new program will transform the Channel Seven Brisbane Racing Carnival, presented by TAB and we’re delighted that EVA Air is playing such a strong role. The May 23 and May 30 meetings each provide races that lead into our two exciting $1.5 million target races – the TAB Stradbroke and the EVA Air Q22.
“And the return of the Brisbane Cup to two miles enables trainers to use a June staying test as a Lexus Melbourne Cup springboard in a similar way to the path forged by overseas horses.”
Danny O’Brien said a 2019 Brisbane campaign was the key to Vow And Declare’s stirring Lexus Melbourne Cup win as the gelding made three Brisbane starts in his preparation.
“Without the Brisbane campaign I don’t think he wins the Melbourne Cup,” O’Brien said.
“It allowed me to prepare him the way I wanted which was to retain that residual fitness and only have a light spring. He did that with two runs and came into Melbourne Cup Day third-up and won.
“We’re not going to reinvent the wheel. He’ll be up in Brisbane. He’ll be able to run in the Q22. A $1.5 million and 2200m race is perfect for him.
“The best part for us is that Eagle Farm is back and in such great shape. We really enjoyed running our horses there last winter. It’s one of Australia’s great racetracks.”
The latest Eagle Farm track record was set by The Candy Man on Saturday, from the Barry Baldwin stables who have also put the fan-favourite forward for the inaugural EVA Air Q22 on June 6.