PATRONS will soon be permitted to return to Queensland racecourses following the approval of an Industry COVID Safe Plan.
Having sought and received approval through Queensland Health, a staged return to on-course activities began across the state from Monday. No one except essential staff, trainers, jockeys and some media have been allowed on Queensland racecourses for four months due to the coronavirus pandemic.
In line with the Queensland government's roadmap to easing restrictions, clubs who opt-in to the racing industry's COVID Safe Plan will be permitted 20 patrons per designated area during stage two. This will increase to 100 patrons per designated area during stage three.
To be compliant with the COVID Safe Plan, clubs will be required to meet a range of guidelines including the segregation of licensed participants from patrons and social distancing measures including no more than one person per 4 square metres in each designated area.
Importantly, each race club will need to conduct its own site assessment to determine how many designated areas it can make available to patrons. Clubs who elect not to opt-in to the racing industry's COVID Safe Plan will be required to adhere to the conditions contained within the Queensland government's roadmap to easing restrictions.
"We know that members, owners and punters have been champing at the bit to be permitted on-course and it's pleasing that they will now be able to do so. The approval of an Industry COVID Safe Plan means this can be done in a safe and considered manner," Racing Minister Stirling Hinchliffe said.
In addition to raceday attendance, owners will now be permitted to attend stables and training venues. Trainers will be responsible for contact tracing as part of stable visits, while non-licensed participants attending trials or jumpouts will be required to watch from designated areas.
Racing Queensland general manager corporate affairs and policy Mary Collier said the industry should be commended for the manner in which it had navigated such a challenging period. "The Queensland racing industry has done a phenomenal job banding together and the return of patrons on-course is another positive step in the right direction. Our 40,000 participants have been extremely patient over recent months and this is reward for their collective efforts," she said.
Country racing projects announced
THE Palaszczuk government will provide $2.6 million in infrastructure funding for 32 race clubs across Queensland, creating or supporting almost 100 jobs, Racing Minister Stirling Hinchliffe has announced.
Funded under the four-year, $70.4 million Country Racing Support Package, non-TAB clubs can apply to Racing Queensland for projects relating to infrastructure repairs and maintenance.
The Minister said 50 projects had been approved under this second round of funding, meaning jobs and a boost to the economies in more than 30 smaller communities. "Coming at this time, when the global economy is taking blow after blow as a result of the pandemic, this funding is yet another avenue for Queensland to unite and recover. We're expecting to announce a third round before the end of the year, which again means jobs and another decent shot in the arm of the economies of successful communities," he said
Key projects across the regions include:
- Irrigation upgrades at the Emerald Jockey Club, Atherton Turf Club and Towers Jockey Club;
- Running rail improvements at the Longreach Jockey Club, Yeppoon Turf Club and Jandowae Race Club;
- Enhanced stewards' towers at the Roma Turf Club, Mount Isa Race Club and the Nanango Racing Club; and
- New barrier stalls and a transport trailer at the Chinchilla Race Club for shared used across the Eastern Downs.
"Country racing is the heartbeat of many communities across Queensland. The majority of our non-TAB clubs have had their meetings either cancelled or postponed during COVID-19 and, as such, their capacity to fund much-needed infrastructure improvements has been further diluted. The Country Racing Support Package has delivered great results for Queensland's racing industry and the latest round of CRP funding will be warmly welcomed across the state," Mr Hinchliffe said.
Gollan chasing another Queensland record
BRISBANE-based trainer Tony Gollan has another record firmly in his sights after becoming the first in Queensland to crack 100 metropolitan winners on a season.
Gollan had a treble at Doomben on Saturday with Howwonderfullifeis, The Actuary and Say Haya which gave him 101.5 winners for the season. Two-year-old filly The Actuary gave Gollan his 49th Listed race winner when winning the 1615m Listed The Phoenix (set weights). It was also his 62nd black-type win, which includes three Group Ones.
AAP reports Gollan has his seventh consecutive metropolitan title sewn up and now sits fourth on the all-time list behind Bruce McLachlan (16), Fred Best (14), and George Anderson (10). He had already set a record for the most metropolitan wins which he previously held at 90 from two seasons ago.
He also has 142.5 winners on all tracks so far this season putting him sixth on the Australian trainers' premiership and just 10 short of Ben Currie's record of 152 winners on all Queensland tracks set in 2017-18. Gollan is averaging nearly three winners a week and has five weeks to the end of the season.
Dozen winners for Spill The Beans
THREE first crop winners at Toowoomba (Little Miss Pixie), Ipswich (Bad Barista) and Townsville (Tennessee Boy) on consecutive days last week is further evidence of the tragic loss of their sire Spill The Beans who died at Aquis Farm, Canungra, on November 1 last year.
Indeed, the entire Thoroughbred breeding industry should be spilling tears as the defunct sire currently ranks second on this season's National First Crop Sire's list for prize money with progeny earnings of $850,449 while his individual winners (12) and wins (18) place him first in those categories.
A son of champion sire Snitzel, Spill The Beans won the Group 2 QTC Cup as a 3YO before retiring to Aquis Farm's stallion base in Canungra, where he was in high demand throughout his short career at stud, covering 489 mares in his first three seasons. Spill The Beans covered 202 in his first year alone, making him the most popular newcomer to stud in Australia in 2016 while the young sire also shuttled to the prestigious English National Stud at Newmarket for the 2018 northern hemisphere breeding season.
Among his first crop of runners were his sons Tennessee Boy and Molongle Drifter, who ran the quinella in the colts and geldings division of Townsville first 2YO races of the season - the 1000m Pallarenda Stakes Maiden Plate - held on Sunday, October 27, last year. Since then, the 2YO gelding has won another three races - the most notable being last Thursday's Northern Classic 2YO Plate won previously in 2016 by this year's Group 1 Stradbroke winner Tyzone.
It should come as little surprise that Tennessee Boy carries the familiar Tom Hedley colours and is trained at Tolga by long term associate Roy Chillemi - as was Tyzone until he transferred to Gold Coast based Toby Edmonds. A $12,500 purchase at last year's Magic Millions March yearling sale, Tennessee Boy is the seventh winner for the unraced Red Ransom (USA) mare Tennessee Red.
His race record now stands at four wins and four placings from eight starts. In fact, the Northern Classic provided a quinella result for the Hedley/Chillemi duo with stablemate Higher Realm (Wandjina) beaten in a photo-finish.
Cleveland Bay dress rehearsal
A CLEVELAND Bay dress rehearsal is how Sky Racing Townsville presenter Michael Charge described the 1200m Open Handicap at Townsville won by 4YO gelding Our Alicia's Lane last Thursday.
Although Townsville's premier sprint race (1300m) - due to be held on August 14 - is still some two months away, last Thursday's field featured several of north Queensland's top sprinters. They included last year's Country Cups series winner Deadly Choices recently transferred from Mt Isa's Damien Finter to Townsville's Tony Comerford, last year's disqualified Townsville Amateurs sprint winner Imanui and subsequent winner Cedarwood, plus recent Mackay and Emerald winner Drumbeat's Choice.
Bred by the Gleeson family at Chinchilla, Our Alicia's Lane is by Real Saga from the Snitzel mare Viennese Beauty and was sold for $14,000 at the 2017 Magic Millions March yearling sale at the Gold Coast. Trained by Charters Towers-based Ben Williams for first time Bowen owners Dave and Nadine Gerhart, the gelding has now raced twice in open company at Charters Towers and Townsville for two wins boosting his record to seven wins and five placings from 21 starts.
Our Alicia's Lane showed his potential early with four wins and three placings as a 2YO with one of those placings being a third in Townsville's top 2YO race - the Northern Classic 2YO Plate. Unfortunately, he missed almost 18 months as a 3 and 4YO due to an inguinal hernia where the small intestine drops through the abdominal cavity into the scrotum and wraps around the horse's testicles. In fact, complications led to the horse having to be castrated twice.
Breeder Wally Gleeson reports Our Alicia's Lane is a half-brother to Golden Conqueror (Rothesay) who has won six of seven starts in Macau while wife Jill is a part-owner in his 2YO sister Real Empress who had one unplaced start in February for Sydney's premier trainer Chris Waller before being transferred to Brisbane trainer Rob Heathcote earlier this month. "Their dam Viennese Beauty had a yearling colt by Eurozone sell at the Gold Coast in March this year for $12,000. She now has a weanling filly by Better Than Ready and is in foal to I Am Invincible's Group 3 winning son Super One," he said.
IN a rare display of one-upmanship, I actually trumped Chinchilla breeder Wally Gleeson when he told me that his mare Viennese Beauty is a sixth generation direct female descendent of 'blue hen' mare Dark Jewel (Star Kingdom) who produced five stakes winners of 28 black type races including Group 1 winners Baguette, Cabochon and Heirloom.
"I can do better than that," I told him. "Go back another three generations and you'll discover that Dark Jewel's great-grandam is Redshank (Thrice). She won the VRC Oaks in 1925 - as did her dam Red Streak (Wallace by Carbine) in 1904 - and then produced the outstanding New Zealand horse Red Manfred (Manfred) whose 10 stakes wins included the Great Northern Derby and St Leger in Auckland plus the Hawke's Bay Cup. How do I know all this? Because Red Manfred was raced by my great-aunt Mary Curle - a sister of my maternal grandfather Jim Scrymgeour."