THE Queensland Winter Carnival has come and gone for another year and had it not been for Group 1 success stories, APACHE CAT and BLACK PIRANHA, the majority of punters would have been fly-blown.

The bookies will no doubt disagree but the carnival was another benefit for the satchel-swingers with upsets almost every week from the Gold Coast pipe-opener in early May to the Sunshine Coast marathon in late June.


It was a testing time for those who love to follow the carnival with this year the added pleasure of a trip up the range to Toowoomba for the Weetwood and Cup, which doubled as the major Queensland meeting on the day and opening of the controversial new Cushion Track.

Hearty souls who were still on their feet for the visit to Clifford Park on a wintery afternoon had somehow managed to survive the Sunshine Coast marathon where one commentator noted that those who enjoy a few beers between races would have been full to the brim by the last.


  • APACHE CAT became the Carnival drawcard and only the third horse to win back-to-back Doomben 10,000s. It was largely the result of a daring Damien Oliver ride.
  • BLACK PIRANHA scored overdue Group 1 success in the Stradbroke Handicap for his young trainer Con Karakatsanis. He had run several G1 seconds in Sydney and the 10,000 when unlucky behind Apache Cat.
  • SEVERAL promising gallopers emerged during the carnival which punters will be keen to follow in the Spring or whenever they next appear. These included: ORTENSIA, which ran a luckless third in the G1 Stradbroke Handicap after winning the Glenlogan Park Stakes and the QTC Cup. BATTLEFIELD, winner of the Listed Ascot Handicap before going on to win the Grafton Ramornie. SHOCKING, the lightly-raced Victorian which defied the odds and a heavy track to run a game second to the Kiwi Court Ruler in the Queensland Derby. SHOOT OUT, winner of the G2 QTC Sires Produce Stakes, rated as the best horse ever trained by John Wallace and a prospective VRC Derby contender. CHADVETADZE, which remained unbeaten after six starts with her win in the G3 Gold Coast Guineas for Toowoomba trainer Michael Nolan. RUSSETING, winner of the G1 Winter Stakes at her first start for the Bart Cummings stable. She had previously won in Listed company for Toowoomba trainer, Donald Baker. She recouped her purchase price of $300,000 in one hit for her new owners.
  • PURPLE from the Peter Snowden stable easily won the G1 Queensland Oaks and although she has been labeled a wet tracker who’s to say those conditions won’t be prevalent during the Spring Carnival.
  • SCENIC SHOT revived the ‘big race career’ of Brisbane jockey, Shane Scriven, with victories in the G1 Doomben Cup and G2 Brisbane Cup. The West Australian galloper is heading to Victoria in the Spring.
  • DUPORTH, an under-rated three-year-old won the G1 BTC Cup in an upset from Bank Robber and Apache Cat, justifying the potential that trainer Anthony Cummings always claimed he possessed.
  • STATHI KATSIDIS made a comeback after 17 months on the sideline through injury and suspension producing the ride of the carnival to win the Toowoomba Cup on the JUSSEMI.


  • UPSET RESULTS in many feature races, spearheaded by the win of LINKY DINK, a Maiden that bolted in with the G1 T J Smith Plate on a heavy track at Eagle Farm. Jason Coyle, the private trainer for Nathan Tinkler’s Patinak Farm, was far from surprised by the win of the $26 chance. The punters and some of the commentators were not as kind rating this as the worst G1 winner in many years. Time will tell!
  • THE decision to experiment with a 12-race card on the Carnival feature day at the SUNSHINE COAST was, in the opinion of most, an absolute disaster. The idea was fine – showcase the new Cushion Track (which had been under fire since its opening) and to finally hold a race on the grass under the lights (which cost a mint and had not been used since being installed months earlier). But the drawn out day, a bog grass track, some problems with the crossing on the cushion and upset results were a bit too much for most.
  • AS if there wasn’t already enough controversy surrounding the installation of a cushion track at TOOWOOMBA, Queensland Racing decided to launch the new facility and grant the club virtual ‘stand alone’ status for the running of its Weetwood-Cup meeting in early July. QR finally bowed to pressure and ran a ‘matinee’ fixture at Doomben, which only contributed more to developing the Carnival into a sideshow rather than a serious event. July is the wrong time of the year to ask carnival visitors to trek to a wintery Toowoomba. If the club is to retain this Weetwood-Cup day as the major Saturday Queensland meeting in a twilight format then it needs to be re-programmed earlier in the carnival. The one positive was that the Cushion played much more consistently than the track at Caloundra which has been inundated by flood rains but is still a major embarrassment for QR – although they refuse to admit it.
  • IPSWICH CUP DAY should have been included in the CARNIVAL HIGHLIGHTS PACKAGE with another record crowd but it was relegated to the disaster list because of major traffic chaos (out of the club’s control) and a track that was a disgrace (well within the control of the club). The Track Manager stated on race morning that it had never been better. After one race punters soon realized that fence was off and the meeting degenerated into a betting nightmare. It was a crying shame that the club could not provide a fairer surface for their biggest day of the year with many horses racing near the fence having little or no hope. Then there was the problem with WORK BEING CARRIED OUT ON IPSWICH ROAD. Jockeys and race-goers were held up in traffic delays. The media told stories of top jockey Larry Cassidy having his car ‘valet parked by order of stewards 15 minutes before the first’ while apprentice Amy Taylor wasn’t as lucky and had to be replaced on her mount.
  • The most disappointing feature of the Carnival, in the eyes of many, was the QUEENSLAND CUP over the 3200m journey. To make matters worse the Pattern Committee recommended it be elevated to Listed status – an unbelievable decision.
  • ON A LIGHT-HEARTED NOTE the Award for ‘Media Goose of the Carnival’ goes to the racing radio interviewer who asked trainer Bevan Laming if he had any fitness concerns with favorite Phaze Action and how he had managed to get it fit enough for the 3200m journey of the Queensland Cup. “Well it did start a couple of weeks ago in the Andrew Ramsden over that trip in Melbourne,” replied a bemused Laming, later told he had to make allowances for the interviewer whose experience largely included a stint as a DJ on a country and western radio station.



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