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Harness Code looks to future with support for breeders and more opportunities for participation

Strong interest is expected for this Sunday’s APG Sales event following Racing Queensland’s announcement of a 7.5% annualised increase to the harness racing code.

Included in the increase is an additional $400,000 annually for harness racing, which comes on top of the $505,000 increase introduced just over six months ago.

The primary focus of the stakes increase is to assist the code’s commercial performance, including additional races to help improve overall profitability and grow participation opportunities, particularly at the grass roots level.

Following a recent industry stakeholder forum Racing Queensland will also introduce QBRED cash, a bonus scheme to further support the breeding and racing of QBRED eligible horses. 

The QBRED cash initiative from February 1, will offer $1000 bonuses to the winners of selected races if they are QBRED eligible. The selected races will initially include classes from C0 and T0 and above with plans to extend to restricted class events during 2018/19.

Nine races each week will offer the bonus. To be eligible, the horse must be paid-up as a QBRED foal and at least one QBRED age sustaining payment must have been made.

These bonuses will be in addition to the lucrative opportunities already available to QBRED registered horses, including the 2yo ($7.5k), 3yo ($7.5k) and 4yo ($2.5k) first win bonuses and the Triad race series for QBRED’s which include $100k finals for 2yo.

The QBRED Cash initiative will initially be implemented from 1 February – 30 June 2018, with a review in May to determine its effectiveness.

Other highlights of the stakes increase include initiatives aimed at driving sustainability of the code through supporting grass-roots participation and Queensland breeders.

These include:

  • The conduct of additional restricted and career class races
  • Conversion of Non-TAB races to TAB events where possible during 2018/19
  • The introduction of a new trotters feature as part of the 2018 Winter Carnival
  • The introduction of a QBRED feature for 2yo trotters

In a further boost to this year’s APG Sales Queensland will play host to the 2018/19 APG 2yo finals set to be worth $350,000, meaning Queensland two year olds will have ‘home ground’ advantage for the series.

The APG sales season starts on 28 January 2018 at Eagle Farm. Horses purchased at the sale will also be eligible for the $100k APG Brisbane Sale Graduate series.

The Racing Queensland initiatives come as recent wagering figures from the Summer Carnival period point to solid interest in harness racing. The 2017 Summer Carnival saw feature racing highlighted by the Group 2 Queensland Cup supported for the first time by events such as the Australasian Young Drivers Championships and the inaugural Lady Drivers Invitational. The result saw wagering growth in November and December up over 10% and average race turnover up over 16% during the summer carnival period, when compared to 2016. 

Racing Queensland will continue to improve its offering for harness punters in the coming months with Darren Clayton’s meeting form analysis to be enhanced through the addition of speed maps for all races and drivers to follow, best bets and suggested quaddies for all meetings.