Eagle Farm ready

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Racing Queensland’s track consultant Mick Goodie says the return to racing at Eagle Farm this Saturday after a bungled revamp that has spanned four years, two attempts at resurfacing and tens of millions of dollars on the project — not to mention lost betting turnover caused by the shambles — will be some reward for the trainers, jockeys and others forced to make do in its absence.

“It’s been a long wait and I think it’ll be well worth it,” Goodie said yesterday. “The track is in good nick and I expect it to race that way as well.

“It’ll also be good for the staff at Eagle Farm, who’ve been to hell and back to get back racing.”

Goodie came to Brisbane with decades of experience, firstly as assistant to Terry Watson at Caulfield and then taking over the role of racecourse manager from Watson at Flemington.

His experience with redevelopments at both Victorian venues made him the perfect choice to salvage what was left of Eagle Farm after the wrong grass for the conditions was initially laid, shortcuts taken due to funding issues and political interference, and the use of an outlawed pesticide that ‘burnt’ the surface.

No race meetings have been held at Eagle Farm since May 27 last year when the Kingsford Smith Cup was run on a surface two-time Melbourne Cup-winning jockey Kerrin McEvoy — who has tasted success winners all over the world — described as “the worst track I have ever ridden on”.

Former Victoria Racing Club chief executive Dale Monteith was brought in at that point to compile an independent report for the Queensland government, which found that Racing Queensland and the Brisbane Racing Club were culpable.

That coincided with Goodie being consulted and he moved up to Brisbane to oversee the task of getting the new turf’s roots to stretch deep into the sandy profile with the aid of fertiliser.

Brendan Parnell was appointed Racing Queensland chief executive earlier this year and is a key driver of the project, along with Matt Rudolph, general manager of the Brisbane Racing Club’s racing division. Parnell, formerly of Sky Racing and the Tatts Group, and Rudolph, formerly an executive with the Australian Turf Club, have been aligned with successful racing ventures and have spent a long time on the front line.

The first gallops on the new Eagle Farm surface were held on December 4. Trials were held last week from the 1600m and the 1000m starting points. Jockeys and trainers were encouraged by what they saw. The back straight, the last section of track put down in April, has relished the warmer conditions over the last month.

Source, Image & More: https://www.theaustralian.com.au/

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