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The Archer to boom in Central Queensland

By Jordan Gerrans 

Big-time owner Alan Acton believes the new concept of The Archer in Central Queensland will only enhance Rockhampton’s standing as a premier racing venue in regional Australia.

Modelled on the popular The Everest in Sydney, the Central Queensland Amateur Racing Club earlier this month launched the inaugural The Archer to be run next year with $440,000 on offer - with $275, 000 going to the first winner - on Saturday, May 7.

The Archer will be the richest race in regional Queensland next year and has already attracted interest from leading stables and owners from around Australia.

Acton and the team at the CQARC plan to raise the stakes to half a million dollars in 2023 as the interest and excitement around the race builds.

The respected Central Queensland cattle property owner has raced several top quality gallopers over the years, including most recently the now retired Outback Barbie and exciting youngster Honey Pot.

The long-time owner and racing administrator points to racing at Callaghan Park being well known around Queensland but thinks The Archer will help lift the profile further around the country.

“We felt regional racing was starting to fall by the wayside a little bit but a race like The Archer will lift our profile, as well as the town of Rockhampton and regional racing throughout Queensland,” Acton said.

“The Central Queensland Amateur Racing Club used to be a really big club going back 30 or 40 years, we used to get thousands of people, but that has dropped off a bit and this will hopefully raise us back up.

“We will get quality horses to this race and that will bring quality riders and jockeys, as well as the connections.”

The CQARC committee had The Archer plans in the works pre-COVID, but decided to hold off until the brand new concept could be launched at its full potential, according to President Bill Reid.

“It was a concept brought together by our committee for the number one reason for us to be sustainable into the future as an Amateur race club,” Reid said.

“And, also, to bring something exciting to Rocky racing.

“It will not just be a Rockhampton event; we want to make it a national event.

“We are bringing a lot of the big owners that have gone to Melbourne and Sydney chasing more dollars and prestige in their racing.

“That should bring the good jockeys and trainers, as well.”

The name for the exciting new race comes from Rockhampton’s Mount Archer, which overlooks the Callaghan Park race track.

Just like the Everest, slot holders have paid up for a position in the first iteration, with nine of the 12 already committed for 2022, with two more to be drawn from a ballot.

Two of the original slot holders from the Everest, Aquis Farm and racing personality Max Whitby, have already committed for next year as has Acton himself, as well as Cairns Jockey Club president Tom Hedley – who races uber-popular The Harrovian and Tyzone.

In an exciting development, one slot will be auctioned every year in the lead-up to the race, which Acton hopes will be able to widen the pool of potential horses and stables being involved.

“It gives everyone an opportunity to get in there if they want too,” Acton said.

“The nine slot holders could be there for years, so hopefully this gives everyone a chance to be involved.”

Acton has been blown away by the response to sell the slots and believes they could have sold plenty more if they were on offer.

“We do not want to make this race just for Rocky; we want it to be a regional thing,” he said.

“The high profile people as owners and slot holders will make it more interesting.

“Prize money wise, if you take away Magic Millions day on the Gold Coast and the Group 1s in Brisbane, this will be the next biggest race on offer.”

The Archer will be run over 1300 metres at Weight-For-Age Handicap conditions.

If the Archer had been launched pre-COVID as the CQARC committee had wanted, Acton was hopeful a galloper like his Outback Barbie would be perfect for his slot.

But, with the mare focussed on her breeding career these days, he is unsure who will fill his slot early next year.

Acton expects jostling for horses between slot holders to commence following Christmas and the New Year period.

Click here to learn more about The Archer.