By Jordan Gerrans
For the betterment of the entire racing industry in the Eastern Downs region of Queensland, the Miles and District Amateur Picnic Race Club have taken one for the team.
While patron-free race days are almost a thing of the past in the Sunshine State, the small town of Miles – which is based north-west of Toowoomba – have opted to run their upcoming meeting with no punters on-course.
After discussions with local industry participants, the club’s committee and people within the area, it has been decided the race day will run without patrons to ensure the prize money will go back into the industry.
Miles and District Amateur Picnic Race Club President Lance Krause explained that those within the club did not want to run the risk of having to go into isolation in the week leading into their February 12 race day and risk the prize money not being awarded to participants and connections.
“We were worried from Christmas time onwards about having someone on the committee or a participant having to isolate in the lead-up to our race day,” Krause said.
“It would make it very difficult for our club to put the race day on if some of our committee would not be able to be there in the days leading in and on race day.
“We do not want to see another race day cancelled in our area, we have had two years of things being up in the air with not much consistency, so we decided to keep the races going to ensure the industry gets the race day in.
“Hopefully this helps keep our committee safer as well by not spreading the virus.
“To hold the event with up to 2000 people in close contact from far and wide would create far too much a risk of spreading COVID and was a risk we were not willing to take.”
Racing Queensland’s non-TAB Thoroughbred Racing Manager Col Truscott said it was a positive that participants will be able to race for the prize money on offer across the five-event program, which is headlined by the 2022 Murilla Cup.
“It is an industry-based decision by the club and in making their decision, consideration weighed heavily for participants in the Eastern Downs region that have been denied a number of racing opportunities in past months in the Eastern Downs region due to weather cancellations,” Truscott said.
With the Miles-based club expected to lose significant revenue from not hosting patrons next month, Krause and his club are hopeful of picking up another race date later in the year if another club was to need to transfer one following rain.
“This is the right thing to do to keep things rolling along, we understand this decision is going to cost the club money as we are not making money at the race day but it is something we need to do to give back to the industry,” Krause, who has been involved in the club for almost two decades, said.
“Everybody has been quite supportive of it and recognised that it is probably the right call.
“Everybody in the industry is glad the race day is going ahead for their sake.
“We are not Eagle Farm, we do not throw millions back into the racing industry, but the little bit we do is important for local trainers, track work riders and everyone else.”