Sand track meet draws small field

THE Rockhampton Jockey (RJC) will conduct the second of its summer TAB race meetings on the Callaghan Park sand training track today albeit with a marked downturn in runners and a reduced card of just seven races.

Originally, an eight-race card was programmed, but one event drew insufficient acceptors for Queensland Racing Limited (QRL) to warrant it accreditation, something which on occasions also happened when racing was on the old turf track. However, the downturn in likely race starters from 85 at the first sand meeting last Tuesday week to just 65 today is of concern given that a further number of meetings are sand-scheduled while the new grass track is still being developed.

QRL and the RJC have earmarked Friday, January 8, 2010, as the opening of the new turf track, but considering that the first turf sod is not to be laid until November 23, on face value that would appear a tight schedule.

RJC chief executive Denis Cox has gone on record saying that racing will not proceed on the turf if there is any concern about its consolidation should that early January date be premature.

The majority of racing industry personnel agree with Cox and would much prefer extended sand track racing to premature damage the grass track which promises to be world-class.

While combined on-course and off-course TAB turnover on the first Callaghan Park sand track meeting was down about 15% on the most recent RJC turf track meeting at Yeppoon, it is likely those figures will fall even further today

Regardless of any well-meaning argument to the contrary, the facts are simple – some horses handle sand tracks while others simply don’t.

What greater example of this than “The Creek” – the Albion Park sand track in Brisbane where turf duffers became sand track champions. With this in mind, punters today should source out horses that have performed well previously on sand tracks.

That is why the likes of Arctic Bear (Race 2); Rock Of Mufasa (3) and Berrima Boogie (7) are likely to start short prices favourites.

However, punters should remember that many horses adapt after one run.

The Clermont Race Club will play Santa Claus at Pepperina Park racecourse in the Central Highlands on Saturday by providing all winning trainers with Christmas hams.

“If a trainer wins more than one race the mentor of the runner-up will win the ham in such circumstances,” CRC president Pat Dillon said.

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