IN the wake of the on-going controversy that has engulfed the redevelopment of Eagle Farm, TERRY BUTTS reports in his ‘SILKS & SADDLES’ column that a cloud also hangs over the upgrade of the Cluden track in Townsville.

Butts writes:

TO many a cloud still hangs over the Eagle Farm track with more questions than answers.

The same in Townsville that also has a $6 million Evergreen track that has deteriorated significantly in the past six months and is about to undergo renovation – again to be funded by Racing Queensland, which obviously accepts some blame for its deterioration in the past six months.

The track is currently closed and there is some doubt when it will re-open although the club still maintains a September re-opening.

In February this year, in its detailed inspection report on Cluden, Evergreen stated: ”The track presents a very good surface for racing – probably one of the best – if not the best in the State”.

AND another thing.

Tenders for the renovation of Cluden closed last Friday. Apparently six companies applied.

Yet one Sydney-based contractor, with a lot of gear turned up the previous Monday. So did 500 tonnes of sand plus 13 tonnes of fertiliser.

There is much more to this story.

Even a suggestion of CCC involvement – but first we must wait for the successful tender to be announced – hopefully this week.

Meanwhile, I can report there has been some fiery exchanges behind the scenes –some at high Government level – and a blame game between TTC and RQ as to how and why the Sydney contractor just happened to turn up on Monday, all dressed up and ready to go.

Watch this space.



A MELBOURNE-based company EIR, that describes itself as a boutique business consultancy specialising in research, strategy development and performance measurement in the sport and entertainment industry, is currently conducting a survey of Queensland country racing.

It is easy to understand the reason – but why the extreme cost of employing an outside agency for yet another costly survey?

Surely Racing Queensland with all its minions could conduct an in-house survey that would come up with the answers.

In a letter to a select group of  owners, Glen Hardy a partner of EIR and formerly employed in a management role at Mooney Valley Racing Club and marketing manager of Racing SA, states he has been appointed by RQ  to undertake “a size and scope study of the racing industry in Queensland.

“The study will provide the industry with an evidence-based assessment of the economic and social importance of the three codes of racing in Queensland.”

Really it is a very basic five minute survey about the average cost of racing a racehorse. Respondents are asked to declare the cost of keeping a horse for 12 months noting the usual costs for training fees, trackwork, farrier, spelling, pre training, insurance, veterinary etc.

One North Queensland owner completed the questionnaire and declared a cost of $64,000 for one country trained horse.

Reckon that might be a bit over the top. It would require the horse to win at least eight races a year to break even (TAB meetings excluded), and not many do. Most certainly don’t.

But it might indicate the state of the game and that very few people are in it for the money. And more owners are getting out of the game than coming in.



ON that subject there was an interesting letter from Chris Waller to his owners last week.

Apart from boasting about being the top metropolitan trainer for the seventh year, and passing the $26 million mark for prizemoney during the year, Waller says “it is inevitable Queensland will raise prizemoney in the very near future”.

The champion trainer obviously knows more than most but talks about his new Gold Coast stable that will give him three bases (Melbourne and Sydney) and says it will mean interstate travelling costs will be abolished. Good for him!

He also announced his Queensland daily training rates – just $117 plus GST.

In Melbourne he charges $123 a day and Sydney $127.

“The Queensland rate is introduced based on the cost of our services being of the highest standard, including a high staffing ratio and that our horses will be competing in Saturday class and Group racing.”

Top coast trainer Toby Edmonds by the way charges $85 per day and there is nothing wrong with his strike rate.

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