by JOHN LINGARD, EDITOR, LETSGOHORSEACING

IN a surprise move Racing Queensland plans to resurrect Deagon as a TAB venue with 12 race dates proposed for the new financial year – the first of those on Friday, July 17.

These would be hosted by the Brisbane Racing Club and are obviously designed to relieve the workload on Doomben whilst ensuring the new Eagle Farm track is not over utilized early days.

This is part of an overdue decision by RQ that would see TAB racing at two venues in Queensland on many Sundays during the year. These would be shown on SKY with the secondary fixture on SKY2. 

A ‘secret’ list of draft dates for racing in 2015-2016 fell off the back of a track outside the letsgohorseracing headquarters. Rather than comment politically on the move to return to TAB racing at Deagon we have left that to the RQ ‘spin doctor’ at The Courier-Mail to put the slant on this that Little King Kev and his cronies would prefer.

Under the proposal Deagon would host race meetings on:

Friday, July 17 (primary venue)

Sunday, August 30 (secondary to Gold Coast)

Sunday, September 13 (secondary to Sunshine Coast – this is the annual Family Picnic Day)

Thursday, October 8 (secondary to Rockhampton)

Sunday, November 22 (primary with Mackay the secondary meeting on the day)

Sunday, Decemb er 20 (secondary to Sunshine Coast)

Sunday, January 3 (primary)

Thursday, February 25 (primary)

Sunday, March 13 (primary)

Friday, April 29 (secondary to Townsville)

Sunday, May 15 (primary)

Friday, June 17 (secondary to Townsville)

The introduction of two Sunday race meetings in Queensland – similar to what occurs in the southern states – is seen by some as a move to provide a desperately needed increase TAB turnover which letsgohorseracing understands has slumped on the local product and is secretly alarming some officials especially under the turnover requirements of the new TAB deal with Tattersall’s. Surprisingly greyhound turnover has increased since the live baiting scandal was reveled.

Dual Sunday racing will be held on July 12 (Sunshine Coast and Cairns); August 9 (Cairns and Dalby); August 23 (Sunshine Coast and Kilcoy), October 18 (Sunshine Coast and Mackay), November 29 (Sunshine Coast and Rockhampton), December 6 (Sunshine Coast and Kilcoy), December 23 (Sunshine Coast and Cairns) and then in 2016 – February 28 (Sunshine Coast and Mackay), June 12 (Sunshine Coast and Lockyer), June 26 (Sunshine Coast and Townsville).

Under the Draft Dates Proposal for 2015-16 the pioneer of Sunday racing – the Sunshine Coast – would be reduced to 39 Sundays. But it would host five metropolitan Satudays and eight Friday night meetings.

During the year there would be 11 Saturdays where the primary metropolitan meeting would be held outside of Brisbane. These include five at the Sunshine Coast, four at the Gold Coast and one each at Ipswich and on the much maligned new track at Toowoomba for their Weetwood-Cup meetings (which suggests this will be approved even before the success or failure of this year’s venture can be gauged).

The Winter Carnival in 2016 would be launched at the Gold Coast on April 30 with the Hollindale-Prime Minister’s Cup meeting following by the Toowoomba Cup and Weetwood on May 7; BTC Cujp (May 14), Doomben Cup (May 21), Doomben 10,000 (May 28), Queensland Oaks (June 4), Strandbroke (June 11) Ipswich Cujp (June 18) and Tattersall’s Tiara on June 25.

Interestingly, the first Saturday meeting actually assigned to the new Eagle Farm track is on October 3. But no track has been allocated the Saturday metropolitan meeting in Brisbane from August 15 to September 26.

That suggests that allow RQ would like to re-open Eagle Farm on August 15 that there is some doubt about when the new track will be ready to race. If Doomben has to continue to shoulder the load – and it has done a remarkable job despite the alleged bias to on-pacers on some days – the track there will require a much-needed recovery period which a third Brisbane venue at Deagon will provide.

What new infrastructure will be needed and whether field sizes will be limited at Deagon is conjecture for others to consider. There will no doubt be an extra cost despite most of the facilities being in place at Deagon already.

DEAGON was established well over a century ago but was utilized for a ‘closed’ race meeting during the Equine Influence crisis in 2007. It was the first time the training centre had been used for racing since 1941.

The first public race day in 72 years was held as a Family Picnic Day in September 2013. The local community was the driving force behind the day. It proved so popular that another was held last year.

Although now owned by Racing Queensland, Deagon meetings are hosted by the Brisbane Racing Club. The venue has turned the full circle from a racing venue to a boutique training complex and now back to a racing venue.

In the latter days of the Bob Bentley era that almost came to an end when there was a proposal for it to become the home of state of the art harness and greyhound complex. This riled local thoroughbred trainers, especially those with major real estate interests at Deagon, which then became a political hot potato and when the LNP Government returned to power the plan was scrapped.

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