Sand track option is a vital choice

QUEENSLAND Racing Limited's racing services manager Paul Brennan said Thursday that it was vital for the overall financial viability of two Rockhampton race clubs that three Non-TAB programs during October and November be run on the controversial sand training track at Callaghan Park racecourse.

Brennan was responding to drawn out criticism of the condition of the new training track, ignited again on Wednesday by dissatisfaction as to how the track “played” for seven trial heats which brought about widespread criticism from competing jockeys.

This brought into question just how the Central Queensland Amateur Race Club (CQARC), which has already transferred its glamour TAB program planned for Friday, October 2 to Yeppoon, would be able to race at Callaghan Park the next day, now just 16 days away.

The Rockhampton Jockey Club (RJC) has its biggest money spinner, St Peters Caulfield Cup Day races scheduled at Callaghan Park on Saturday, October 17 and Melbourne Cup Day races on Tuesday, November 3.

“After discussions with both Clubs we (QRL) have gained an appreciation as to the magnitude of these dates to the overall financial viability of them and the necessity to conduct these meetings in Rockhampton,” Brennan said.

“Our goal is to provide an adequate sand racing surface for the conduct of these three upcoming non-TAB meetings by October 3.”

He said stakeholders (trainers, jockeys and owners) not wishing to support the Callaghan Park meetings had an abundance of other alternatives.

Brennan listed 11 such race meetings at Yeppoon, Mackay, Emerald and Gladstone in the alternative category from September 22 to November 3.

“The decision to race on the Callaghan Park sand track was taken as a compromise between stakeholder requirements and club viability.

“Further remedial action was planned on Wednesday for the Callaghan Park sand track..

It is considered this will provide continued improvement to the track in the context of its performance as a racing surface.

“However, there are compromises that will result in the ongoing use of the track for training purposes,” he said.

Yesterday, the QRL's newly appointed racetrack development manager Warren Williams inspected both Yeppoon's Keppel Park track TAB racing venue and the Callaghan Park sand and grass track constructions.

Brennan said Williams would be reporting back to QRL on recommendations designed to assist in assuring the Keppel Park grass circuit can withstand the remaining quota of rescheduled TAB meetings to November's end.

To this end, Brennan said Yeppoon was already struggling to cope with the number of TAB meetings already transferred.

Accordingly, Brennan scoffed at suggestions that the CQARC's meeting on October 3 should have been transferred to Yeppoon.

“We are mindful of the fact that Yeppoon may not be suitable to facilitate any additional meetings,” Brennan concluded.

His edict virtually ensures the CQARC's October 3 race venue at Callaghan Park will materialise, thereby stabilising the club's gale social day of activities that are planned.

Meanwhile, the Springsure Jockey Club's Cup meeting tomorrow has attracted 32 runners with horses coming from as far afield as Augathella, Roma and Mackay.

Thangool trainer Norma King has engaged Dalby apprentice Erin Wilson for Jyi's Prospect, the topweight with 63.5kg in the Cup.

Premier Rockhampton jockey Luke Dillon is packing his swag along with trainer Brian Challacombe in preparation for a stint at the two days of racing and sports events promoted by the Twin Hills Race Club on Friday, September 25 and September 26.

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