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New chute for Kilcoy given tick of approval by riders

By Jordan Gerrans

The late Ian McCauley’s vision for the Kilcoy Race Club to have a 1200-metre chute start has finally come to fruition.

Through investment from the Somerset Regional Council and Racing Queensland, a new 1200-metre chute has been built at the Kilcoy track – giving gallopers a 400-metre run into the first corner – starting at their upcoming race day next Friday afternoon.

Kilcoy Race Club president Con Searle detailed that Ian McCauley, OAM, a former vice-president of the Club, had long envisioned the plan coming to fruition before his passing in late 2020.

“It was an inspiration by the late Ian McCauley to have a 1200-metre start there, to give horses a fair run for the first 400 metres,” Searle said.

“He was my vice-president and he had a great love for racing and raced horses, he had a great love for the race track here at Kilcoy.

“He was a great friend of mine and it was his idea to buy that land, or to get the council to purchase it.

“It is amazing the virtues that will come out of it.”

McCauley was a racehorse owner, club committeeman and an Order of Australia Medal recipient, who had a long association with racing in the Sunshine State.

The new chute was given the official tick of approval on Monday morning with club officials, trainers, jockeys and QRIC stewards on hand for a four horse jump out at the new starting spot.

The Somerset Regional Council provided civil works and materials for the required sub-base and drainage, as well as purchasing the land, while RQ played their role by assisting in track drainage supplies, irrigation infrastructure for the new start, running rails and turf.     

Searle is hopeful a higher standard of horses will travel to Kilcoy in their upcoming race days, believing gallopers will get a much fairer opportunity to win than ever before.

Jockey Les Tilley, who has ridden 22 winners so far this season, believes the new chute will provide more options for riders at the 1200-metre start.

“It opens up a lot of eyes actually, you are no longer jumping straight on to a corner and turning constantly,” Tilley said.

“It is a nice 400-metre run into it.

“We had enough time to get everything under control and get into a nice position before that first corner now.

“It makes a hell of a lot of difference now.”

Eagle Farm trainer Kelly Schweida, who took two maiden gallopers out for Monday’s jump-out, joked that Kilcoy may need to change their nickname from “the Moonee Valley of the north” following the positive track upgrades.

“Not only the dimensions of the track change following this, so does the perceptions of Kilcoy as a track,” Schweida said.

“We are used to a little tight track, just ping out and run.

“They might have to change the name from the Moonee Valley of the north to the Flemington of the north, it is a colossal run in when you have a good look at it.

“As a trainer, this gives you so many more options – it is a great idea and it certainly opens the track up.”

Widely known as a tight-turning track with a short home straight, jockey Tiffani Brooker, who also rode for the Schweida stable, was blown away by the strong grass coverage at Kilcoy.

“I have got to say, the biggest thing for me is the grass coverage, it is absolutely beautiful the track,” Brooker, who rode a winning double at the Sunshine Coast on Sunday, said.

“The surface the great.

“The long run in changes things a lot, there is no longer that scramble that we previously we had there.

“It will give more horses a chance now, riders do not need to force their way into a position now.”

Experienced Toowoomba trainer Kevin Kemp was also represented at Monday’s jump-out, with hoop’s Montanna Savva and Cecily Eaton riding for his stable.

The Kilcoy club will unveil the new chute on race day for the first time next Friday with an eight event program.