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Club Spotlight: Cloncurry

By Jordan Gerrans Cloncurry-District-14-FB.jpg

To invest in their own future and racing in the north-west of Queensland, the Cloncurry and District Race Club are thinking big.

The club’s committee are in the process of remodelling their entire track, improving their current dirt track into a turf surface in the coming years.

The COVID-19 impact on racing around Queensland has slowed the project a little but as the club’s president Luke Daniels explains, a brand new grass track at Cloncurry is achievable in the next three years.

In Daniels’ plans, a brand new training track would bring more stables to town and with comes that, more people, and families to their area.

As it stands in 2021, there is not one horse trainer based at Cloncurry.

They rely on Mount Isa and other nearby towns to fill their race fields every time they go around, including this Saturday afternoon with a five event non-TAB program.

There are a few people with trainers’ licences in Cloncurry, but they rarely have horses in work in recent years.

“We have got a tremendous set up as it is,” Daniels explained.

“Our track is a little hard at times and if we get a turf track, we then employ two extra people in the community to look after it and then hopefully one day we can encourage a few more trainers to town.

“It should benefit the entire community with a new turf track, we employ more people, we attract more trainers and then comes more families to town.

“People can come from Townsville, Cairns and Rockhampton and come here and know they are racing on grass.

“Overall, it is a benefit to the entire area around Cloncurry.

“Hopefully we can get the project of the ground in the next few years.”

The club’s committee estimate the entire project will cost around $1 million to complete.

They are already halfway there with Racing Queensland committing around $450,000 to the project, on top of the $50,000 the club itself will chip in.

The Cloncurry and District Race Club will go to their local council and other funding streams to help build the rest of the prospective grass track.

Cloncurry’s plans follow that of Barcaldine Racing Club, who in recent years converted from a dirt to turf track.

Back in May of 2018, Barcaldine’s opening became the first turf track in western Queensland.

Cloncurry is keen to do exactly the same.

If not for COVID-19, there is every chance the works would have already started.

Races

4
4

Cloncurry | Cloncurry & District Race Club | 3:55 PM

HACON & SONS OPEN Handicap

5
5

Cloncurry | Cloncurry & District Race Club | 4:35 PM

BULL CREEK BEEF Class 6 Plate

Prize money

$7,450

Cloncurry-1.jpgThe Cloncurry committee have recognised just how important the social aspect of the racing industry is in the area and do not want their region to go without racing for potentially 12 months, the length of time the project is expected to take to complete once it is started.

They raced much of 2020 without crowds on course and think its best to delay the project so the locals can enjoy the racing this year.

“They rely heavily on these sorts of social events,” Daniels said.

“We did not want to put the community through no racing for maybe 12 months while we built the turf track.

“The community needs us to be up and running for the next year and then hopefully we can keep it on the table.”

Leading Mount Isa trainer Jay Morris, who has a Cleveland Bay Handicap winner on his resume, thinks a grass track in the north-west would be fantastic for the industry.

“It would be excellent if it does happen,” Morris said.

“They are confident as a club it will happen.”

Morris described Cloncurry’s committee as progressive and forward-thinking, always looking to improve their club and facilities.

Daniels is hopeful within the next three years, they will be racing on green grass at Cloncurry.

“We feel as though our area, the north-west and the horses, we need to keep upgrading our facilities and the opportunity to race on turf,” Daniels said.

“It will give us the ability to attract horses from Townsville and Cairns, further abroad and the long-term view can be having a feature event out here.”

The idea of the turf track originated from the Cloncurry Sewage Treatment Plant.

Officials at the plant contacted the race club and thought the racetrack would be an excellent place to put the excess water, originally thought to place the water in the middle of the racecourse.

But Daniels and his committee went a step further, believing they could use the incoming water to keep a brand new grass track in great condition.

“I saw it as a bit of a once in a lifetime opportunity where the water has come available,” Daniels said.

Late last year, the club hosted its first ever TAB race day, with the Cloncurry Cup race meeting broadcast across Sky Racing channels Australia-wide.

Morris, who has trained five winners from his last six starters, rates Cloncurry as a place to race his team.

“It is a good track, it is well shaped, and every horse gets a chance,” Morris said.

“It is a good facility and the committee have done a mountain of work on it.

“The club is always improving things, every time I go there something new has happened or they have a new piece of infrastructure.”

Morris had Tango Rain start as favourite in last year’s Country Stampede qualifier from Cloncurry, where the gelding ran third carrying 64kgs.

Barcaldine trainer Todd Austin claimed the 2020 Cloncurry Cup with Eschiele, one of the gelding’s 12 career wins.

Cloncurry will race this Saturday before hosting another program in late May.

Cloncurry and District Race Club Fashions on the Field Coordinator Ele Avery said they were actively searching for more sponsors.