Date set for Eagle Farm return

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Racing will return to Eagle Farm on December 22.

Racing Queensland and Brisbane Racing Club (BRC) issued a statement this afternoon which said that “the Saturday metropolitan thoroughbred meeting scheduled for December 22 will be transferred from Doomben to Eagle Farm”.

Racing was banned from the track in June last year, due to its poor condition after a drawn out drama over the quality of renovation work to the surface. The racing meets were moved to Doomben track, with social events around carnivals such as Melbourne Cup remaining at the Ascot site.

Horses put the new turf to the test during trials at Eagle Farm. Photo Lachie Millard

Local traders lamented the move, saying it meant a drop in custom in the iconic Racecourse Road shopping and entertainment precinct, further exacerbated by the extended roadwork on Kingsford Smith Drive — which was will now not finish until the second half of 2020 — and the loss of the Eagle Farm food markets last month. There are many empty stores at the Ascot end of the strip.

Racecourse Road Business Group president Kate Peereboom said the announcement of races returning to Eagle Farm Racecourse was an “amazing Christmas present” for businesses on the road, which runs from Kingsford Smith Drive at Hamilton straight to the racecourse gates at Ascot.

“We are absolutely ecstatic that racing is returning,” she said.

“We work closely with the club and they are very supportive of us. This is a great think for businesses in the whole precinct.

“It means that we are going to have more people in Racecourse Rd on race days, which will help the coffee shops and the boutiques.

“And the after the racing it means people may stay in the area and have a meal and a drink. While races were at Doomben people would bypass Racecourse Rd for get-togethers and go straight to the Valley or city.

“This is really good for business confidence overall.”

Racecourse Road Pharmacy’s Martin Leung said the return of racing was “fantastic”.

“We have missed it a lot,” Mr Leung said.

“It used to be that when there was a big event on (at the track) there was a lot of people on Racecourse Road walking pas (our pharmacy). It created a bit of a buzz for the area. Since racing has been at Doomben for a few years, things quietened down a lot. It doesn’t have the flair it used to have. But the races will just bring back all that uniqueness to the area.”

Today’s release from Brisbane Racing Club and Racing Queensland states: The change in venue follows successful barrier trials and jump-outs held at Eagle Farm on Tuesday morning.

Queensland Racing boss Brendan Parnell at Eagle Farm racetrack. Pic Annette Dew

Racing Queensland CEO Brendan Parnell said the return to Eagle Farm could only happen with the support of industry stakeholders and the Queensland Racing Integrity Commission (QRIC) Stewards.

“The feedback from participants following last week’s gallops and today’s barrier trials has been positive,” Mr Parnell said.

“Eagle Farm is the traditional home of thoroughbred racing in Queensland and I would like to thank all stakeholders for their patience while we’ve worked with the BRC to deliver a return to racing there. Racing Queensland and the BRC will now work to make the appropriate amendments to the racing calendar to accommodate the transfer.”

BRC Chairman Neville Bell said he was delighted with feedback from today’s trials and was looking forward to the return to Eagle Farm.

“This track is Queensland’s home of racing so we’re excited about returning here after such good reports on the surface. We’re 11 days away from racing at Eagle Farm again and we’re in the midst of a very strong Summer Carnival. It’s an exciting time,” Mr Bell said.

Two official barrier trials were conducted from the 1000m chute to the winning post, followed by two 800m jump-outs from the 1600m chute to test the back section of the course.

Racing Queensland senior track specialist Mick Goodie said the track performed very well across all sections.

“The track has received 60mm of irrigation since last Friday, including 10mm last night and 20mm on Sunday night, and had a nice cushion of grass. The back straight performed just as well as the home straight and will continue to improve heading towards 22 December,” Mr Goodie said.

The next meeting at Eagle Farm is scheduled for 19 January 2019 with Mr Goodie and the BRC track staff to assess the track’s recovery following the meeting on 22 December. Racing Queensland and the BRC will communicate programming changes including distances and race day operations to industry later today.

Work at Eagle Farm Racecourse in May 27 this year. PICTURE: AAP image, John Gass

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