IN his popular column, ‘SILKS & SADDLES,’ published by the NORTH QUEENSLAND REGISTER, respected racing writer TERRY BUTTS predicts the installation of a new Strathayr track in Townsville.

Butts also reports on major problems with the new Cairns track and how when a trainer complained he was told by a committeeman of the local club to ‘f… off’ if he wasn’t happy.

There is also an update on the problem between the Townsville Turf Club, developers and the Main Roads over proposed changes to the Bruce Highway that will impact on Cluden.

Here is the Butts column:

 

EXPECT NEWS SOON THAT TOWNSVILLE WILL GET NEW STRATHAYR TRACK

RACING Queensland, under fire over the cost involved in the installation of a grass track to replace the cushion at Toowoomba, is moving to calm the waters in other centres.

There’s a strong whisper that the Townsville Turf Club will get a new track after all.

Expect an announcement soon that Cluden will get a new Strathayr track just like Mackay.

This is the same surface that Mooney Valley pioneered in Australia and is now used successfully in Hong Kong at both Sha Tin and Happy Valley and in Singapore as well.

Work will probably start straight after the Townsville Amateurs in August.

This is great news for Townsville which has really been at the bottom of the list as far as track upgrades go in this State.

 

STONE THE CROWS – THE NEW CAIRNS TRACK ISN’T FIT TO RACE ON

THE news is not so good for Cairns which also has a new track – but there are problems.

And there are major problems, according to some of the licensees, though the gravity of the situation is not shared by the club nor apparently, Racing Queensland.

For some unaccountable reason the sand/loam that was spread on the new track was unscreened, or so the story goes.

Down came the rain and up came the stones – thousands of them, some the size of a cricket balls.

RQ’s track ‘expert,’ Warren Williams, was in Cairns again this week to try and sort out the mess.

Truckloads of stones have been carted away and while there is natural concern among trainers and jockeys, the club doesn’t seem to share these.

 

TRAINER WHO COMPLAINED ABOUT TRACK WAS TOLD WHERE TO GO BY COMMITTEEMAN

AT a meeting between a few committeemen and trainers last week, one trainer, after expressing his concerns was told by a committeeman: “If you don’t like it, pack your horses and F… Off.”

Nice one, Argo!

AND that’s not all. The club has just sacked its long-time track curator Steve Clark.

We are not sure of the reason yet, but he was cast adrift last Thursday and it is now in the hands of a lawyer.

Maybe the club didn’t like the curator’s comments about the new track. All will be soon divulged.

You can bet Work Place Health and Safety will be keen to assess the track before the first scheduled meeting at Cannon Park.

And maybe chiefs of Racing Queensland, who are financing the project, might be interested to see some current photographs of the stone-infested track.

They should also attempt to view a couple of text exchanges between key figures in this expensive undertaking.

 

RESOLUTION IN SIGHT BUT TRAFFIC DEBACLE WILL BE HORROR ON CUP DAY 

WHILE the Townsville Turf Club is still immersed in a long and arduous battle with high profile developers and Main Roads over proposed changes to the Bruce Highway that will severely impact on Cluden, there may be light at the ‘end of the overpass.’

The latest mail is that there could be a ‘way around it.’

According to a TTC source, the current float and licensees’ entrance will be lost. It will go under the overpass if the latest plans are adopted.

Seems whatever happens there will be only the one entry to the racecourse- that being off the roundabout that also serves as the entry point to Fairfield Waters.

Imagine the scene there when Saturday morning shoppers and race-goers merge on big race days. It will be an absolute horror on Townsville Cup day, no doubt.

 

MAIN ROADS CRITICIZED FOR FAILING TO CONSULT WITH TURF CLUB

MAIN Roads has come under severe attack for its total lack of consultation in this shemozzle.

The department, already on the nose under the Newman Government, simply changed the original plans (twice) without any consultation whatsoever with those who will be most affected, including of course the TTC.

 One might ask why?

Or better still, who does this latest change of plans benefit most?

And if Main Roads can’t provide the satisfactory answer to the Cluden dwellers and the Turf Club, or explain publicly what is going on then the CMC might be called in to help provide some answers.

Yes, there’s a hint the CMC might be involved because people are sick and tired of the secrecy and over-handed treatment being administered by a Government department and of decisions being made that clearly advantage certain developments, at the expense of others in the region.

 

FAIRFIELD WATERS AND TTC DISPUTE OVER LAKE COULD END IN COURT

AND that’s not all. Neighbors Fairfield Waters and the Townsville Turf Club are involved in a somewhat bitter and very expensive dispute over Cluden’s indoor lake that could end in court.

It is a multi-million dollar action by the Turf Club which claims Fairfield Waters took more than the agreed quantity of land fill from the lake site.

They allegedly dug too deep, rendering the lake useless as a fresh water reserve which the Turf Club had hoped to use for watering purposes.

This case has festered on for years, but is set down for determination anytime now.

 

JEFF FELIX RETURNS TO TRACKWORK RIDING AFTER FALL EIGHT MONTHS  

POPULAR North Queensland jockey Jeffrey Felix has made a long-awaited return to the racetrack.

Jovial Jeff has been off the scene since a race fall at Mackay eight months ago.

He has been a leading jockey in the north for many years and while he has snagged many of the big races, he has also been a victim of some very nasty race accidents that have impacted severely on his record.

However, Jeff always bounces back, just as he has done this time and is now a regular at Cluden trackwork riding for Olivia Cairns with whom he has had a long and successful association.

He is in no hurry to return to race riding. “It will happen when it happens.”

Hopefully that will be sometime soon.

 

COUNCIL CAME TO THE RESCUE TO RESURRECT MAXWELTON RACING

MAXWELTON, the tiny train-stop between Richmond and Julia Creek, didn’t have a race meeting last year because the track and associated facilities were deemed by Racing Queensland as not being up to acceptable standards.

But with a $50,000 grant from Richmond Shire Council the 63rd running of the Maxi Cup will be held on April 6.

New secretary, Connie Wharton, said a running rail has been completed around the track and other amenities have been updated to the satisfaction of RQ.

She said however that it is a year to year situation at Maxi which relies on sponsors for much of the prize-money.

The downturn in mining has left nearby Cannington out this year, and Connie reports that banks and other big commercial entities have shied away from race sponsorship as they perceive that gambling is no longer popular in the greater community.

The club this year has $36,000 on offer for its five-race card and Connie has appealed to business houses to participate in this popular day out – the only social event on the calendar in the region.

Naming rights to a race can be secured for $1,000 with facilities to advertise and promote products around the grounds.

Of course the now famous Maxi tug-o-war will be back as well as non-stop activities for the kids and a big bash after the last.

 

COLUMN COURTESY OF TERRY BUTTS AND THE NORTH QUEENSLAND REGISTER, one of Australia's leading rural newspapers.

TERRY BUTTS can be contacted by e-mailing: This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.

 

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