RQ turns financial position around

Racing Queensland reveals $19.6 million turnaround

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Phillip Bate analyses news from the Queensland racing scene.

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AN almost $20 million financial turnaround is the highlight of this year’s Racing Queensland (RQ) Annual Report released last Friday, September 29.

In 2015/16 RQ recorded a loss of $21.8 million. However, with strong revenue growth and the full year benefit of changes to the business model, Racing Queensland has recorded a loss of $2.2 million for the current financial year – a turnaround of $19.6 million.

Racing Queensland’s 2016/17 Annual Report is the first for the new Board and leadership team which focused on setting the foundation for further growth and sustainability across all codes of racing.

Racing Queensland CEO, Dr Eliot Forbes, said the early results arise from a committed focus on increasing revenue while maintaining a disciplined approach to expense management. .

“One of the key reasons for this turnaround results from the commercial decision by the RQ Board in relation to the Race Information Fees (RIF) policy which, together with wagering growth of 9.5 percent for Queensland races, increased net RIF income by 18 percent to $68.7 million,” Dr Forbes said.

In 2016/17 Racing Queensland achieved total revenue growth of 4.5 percent to $239.9 million, driven by an increase in total wagering revenue of $7.1 million. Total expenses decreased $9.3 million or 3.7 percent.

“The financial turnaround has enabled Racing Queensland to increase prize money for the 2017/18 by $3.2 million. It’s our strategic objective to continue to increase participant returns including greater prize money,” he said.

Dr Forbes said revenue from RQ’s Program and Product Deed with UBET declined $2.5 million due to customers migrating to fixed-odds products from pari-mutuel betting, while adverse weather events also took a toll.  “Cyclone Debbie caused $2 million damage to club infrastructure from Bowen to Beaudesert causing major disruption to racing and training activities. RQ worked with the state government to secure financial support of $778,000 to ensure no clubs were out of pocket.

“Despite challenges with the Eagle Farm track during the year, the Queensland Winter Racing Carnival again proved to be the pinnacle of racing in Queensland. RQ is now working with BRC to remediate the track and an April 2018 return to racing is targeted,” he said.

Dr Forbes said during the year new Strategic and Infrastructure Plans were formulated following extensive research and consultation. “ The Infrastructure Plan, approved by government, identified $19 million of projects for immediate delivery including a $13 million project for the Ipswich Turf Club and a $6 million country and regional racing package benefiting 112 clubs across all three codes. The Racing Infrastructure Fund has $63 million available now with another $57 million available between 2020 and 2023,” he said.

Dr Forbes said racing in Queensland was now at a crucial stage of the transformation path and  acknowledged the role of all stakeholders in helping to make that a reality. “The entire team at Racing Queensland is looking forward to continuing to work with all our stakeholders as we build towards a prosperous future for the Queensland racing industry,” he said.

RQ financial turnaround welcomed

RACING Minister Grace Grace has welcomed a major financial turnaround at Racing Queensland, with the peak racing body’s bottom line improving by almost $20 million over the last 12 months.

“This much-improved performance is the result of RQ’s stronger commercial focus and a new leadership team determined to drive growth in the Queensland racing industry,” Ms Grace said.

“Racing Queensland is turning the corner financially, and this is opening up new opportunities for industry growth. The Palaszczuk Government is supporting RQ’s efforts with important new investments in racing infrastructure throughout the State. We’ve also shown our support for country racing with a $21 million Country Racing Support Package, in recognition of the important role racing plays in communities throughout Queensland,” she said.

Ms Grace also welcomed the Queensland Racing Integrity Commission’s first Annual Report, which shows the new standalone integrity body delivering strong outcomes for industry participants. “The vast majority of those involved in our racing industry are doing the right thing. However those that aren’t doing the right thing are being caught and dealt with,” she said.

“QRIC’s partnership with the Queensland Police Service through the Racing Crime Squad has seen 40 charges being laid against a total of 22 offenders.  It’s pleasing to see that 99.6 percent of the 19,000-plus swabs analysed by the QRIC’s Racing Science Centre returned negative results.

“Queenslanders are also getting behind QRIC’s efforts to improve animal welfare, with many opening their homes to former racing dogs. In 2016-17, 318 retired greyhounds were re-homed through the Greyhound Adoption Program – an absolutely fantastic result.

“These achievements just over one year on from its creation show that QRIC is working as intended, and helping to strengthen public confidence in the Queensland racing industry,” Ms Grace said.

Racing Queensland Board approves infrastructure plan for growth

RACING Queensland (RQ) has published its infrastructure plan aimed at growing racing for future generations.

RQ CEO Dr Eliot Forbes said the infrastructure plan represents a major component of the overall commercial plan that lays the foundation for the growth of all three codes of racing in Queensland.

“Our vision to connect people through the thrill of racing can only become reality if we deliver on the wide range of infrastructure needs and grow racing and non-racing revenue. The focus is on fulfilling the infrastructure needs of industry and generating commercial income from industry assets. We also aim to create enduring community benefits and improve club sustainability,” Dr Forbes said.

The plan is based on feedback from the recent infrastructure submission process, independent research, stakeholder engagement and Racing Queensland’s venue inspection database. The process identified that there are infrastructure needs of $198 million and a $78 million shortfall because there is only $120 million available through the Racing Infrastructure Fund (RIF).

Racing Minister Grace Grace has already announced the first of the projects under the RIF – the $6 million country and regional racing package and the $13 million project for the Ipswich Turf Club. Work on both of those projects is already underway in multiple locations.

Other priority projects RQ aims to deliver over the next two years, subject to government approval, include:

  • Ipswich Greyhound Club relocation, ideally featuring a one-turn track.
  • Brisbane Racing Club Eagle Farm track remediation.
  • Gold Coast Turf Club track remediation, lights for night racing and potentially a tunnel for infield car-parking to allow commercial development.
  • Townsville greyhound facility refurbishment.
  • Brisbane Greyhound Racing Club relocation incorporating a double turn track and a straight track.

Projects for potential funding include on-course stabling at Townsville Turf Club, an upgrade to the course at Doomben, renovation of the synthetic track on the Sunshine Coast, a contribution to the sports club at Toowoomba and expansion of the on-course stabling in Cairns. Racing Queensland will continue to accept project submissions on an ongoing basis.

Gorgeous double for Manzelmann

MACKAY trainer John Manzelmann proved once again his keen eye for horseflesh when former Victorian galloper Gorgeous Ryder won the 1810m Bowen Cup on Saturday, September 30.

Racing Queensland webnews reports Manzelmann couldn't remember how many times he has won the Bowen Cup but it was just another in the long list of country Cups he has won over the past few decades in north Queensland. “I’ve won this race quite a few times. I can’t recall exactly but it has to be at least four and maybe five times,” he said.

Gorgeous George was having only his seventh start for Manzelmann who bought the 7YO gelding for only $6000 at a tried horse sale in Melbourne. The son of Chinese Dragon (USA) started his career in New Zealand winning two of his first four starts before being sold and sent to Melbourne trainer Robert Smerdon.

“I bought him off Robert (Smerdon) but between his last run for him and when I got him he went to Hong Kong. I’m not sure why he didn’t race over there. I guess he didn’t cope in Hong Kong as he’s very headstrong,” Manzelmann said

Manzelmann was confident Gorgeous George would win the Bowen Cup after winning over 2000 m at Ingham and then finishing second at Mackay over 1800m in his two lead-up races.

Gorgeous George was the second leg of a double for Manzelmann and jockey Chelsea Jokic who earlier won the QTIS Maiden Plate (1100m) with 4YO Jet Spur mare Gorgeous Gal. “It’s strange how they’re both named Gorgeous as I never named either and I got Gorgeous Gal from an online auction for $1200 off Kelly Doughty,” he said 

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