NEW RULES: The racing industry gears up for the new COVID-19 rules for racing. Picture: MATT HARRIS
NEW RULES: The racing industry gears up for the new COVID-19 rules for racing. Picture: MATT HARRIS

Racing industry gets creative under new COVID-19 rules

THE advent of "zone racing" introduced in Queensland from today had stakeholders scrambling over the weekend to rehome themselves and horses from outside areas.

The Central Queensland region is divided into two zones - Central (Rock­hampton and Mackay) and the Central West Zone (host clubs Emerald and Barcaldine).

As of midnight on Sunday, the movement of horses in and out of Queensland's eight zones was banned and jockeys had to be declared domiciled within a certain zone and cannot ride in other zones.

They can however ride in neighbouring zones which in this region allows them to race ride in the Central and Central West Zones at country meetings of a Saturday.

As such there will no longer be any "fly-in fly-out jockeys" riding at the Rockhampton and Mackay TAB race meetings which will occur on alternative Tuesdays commencing April 7 under COVID-19 restrictions.

Brad Pengelly, one of Queensland's most naturally talented jockeys, was driving north from his Brisbane home yesterday to be based in Mackay.

Originally from Calliope, Pengelly has twice ridden four winners at Randwick and because of weight restrictions in the main now rides mostly at the TAB meetings in Central and North Queensland.

Similarly, former leading Rockhampton apprentice Zoe White was shifting north over the weekend from Brisbane back to her home town where she will also ride from during current restrictions.

Now Sunshine Coast based trainer Tom Burton arrived at Callaghan Park racecourse, Rockhampton with eight horses yesterday at 3.30PM which included for of the five he has in the CYS 2YO Classic (1200m) on Tuesday week.

"I've brought a truckload up to be based at Callaghan Park. These include Miss Lot Won; The Silver Lady, Lady Lowburn and Champagne Trouble which are all in the Classic. Goodbye Earl who won for me here last week remained in Rocky so I could have five in the Classic", Button said.

He capped a training triumph on Saturday when his Capricornia Yearling Sale graduate Gypsy Toff won her third successive race with a metropolitan win in Brisbane.

Racing Queensland on Saturday advised changes to the reconvened CYS 2YO Classic and the 3 & 4YO Classic on April 7.

The prize money for the 2YO Classic has been reduced from $125K to $75K while the other Classic prize money is down from $75K to $50K but there is a silver lining attachment later this year.

RQ will program a $75K Capricornia Sales 3YO Guineas (1200m) with QTIS bonuses and a $50K Capricornia Sales 4 and 5YO Championship (1300m) plus bonuses next summer.

"Overall, it is probably a win-win situation as there will be more prize money as a result", Ross Shannon the president of the Rockhampton based Queensland Trainers Association said.

The Mackay Turf Club will kick off the Central Zone's first regional TAB race card on Tuesday with a colossal 10-race program featuring 104 horses.

The meeting is restricted to horses trained in Rockhampton and Mackay and naturally only for jockeys based in both regional zones.

Rockhampton will provide one-third of the starters and 10 of the 15 jockeys in what is a monumental effort considering such a huge card of racing serviced by just two regional racing cities.

The first Central West Zone country race meeting will be at Barcaldine next Saturday which rotates each weekend with Emerald.

Locally based vendors will yearlings in the dedicated online Capricornia Yearling Sales scheduled on on Wednesday, April 8 are welcoming inspections of their yearlings.

"It is a top selling point that local yearlings can be inspected, seen in the flesh, touched and flexed before buying. That means little has changed for local buyers," Kerrod Smyth of Laurel Glen, Alton Downs said.

Clinton Thompson Palm Valley Thoroughbreds, Tungamull and Susan Peddle, Dululu are among the other local breeders with prominent drafts ready to have the eye cast over.

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