"State of the art" grandstand plan Albion Park
THE "industry'' meeting at Albion Park last Sunday contained a mixed bag of what could be seen as pluses or minuses for trotting in Queensland, depending on which level owners, trainers and drivers are participating.
Queensland Harness Racing Board chairman Brad Steele gave an optimistic address predicting a bright future for the sport in coming years, with much emphasis placed on the upgrade of on-course facilities.
Central to this will be the construction of a "state of the art'' grandstand and entertainment package at Albion Park.
This, and the conversion of the existing stand to a licenced club, will require expenditure in the order of $14/15 million. It is expected that the ribbon cutting will take place in no more than 18 months.
Redcliffe, which is currently pivotal to the survival of trotting will receive small amounts to bring the venue up to scratch.
Day-to-day operating necessities, such as betting and media coverage, will receive close attention, designed to "stabilise and accelerate the growth of the sport''.
Turnover figures are currently positive and to this end, the Friday afternoon timeslot will be maintained until December.
The QHRB is committed to the concept of three commercial tracks, including a venue in the Gold Coast area in South East Queensland.
It was expected that Minister Steve Dickson would announce funding for the anticipated upgrades this week.
Syndication of ownership is to be pursued in order to bring in new owners and rekindle ties with owners who have left the game for one reason or another.
The Board is currently negotiating with people who have expertise in the setting up of such syndications. It is sound move, particularly the bringing in of skills in this area.
Syndication was first mooted at Botra some 15 years ago, and at least annually since for no result. Maybe this time.
That's the good news. The not so good news involves hobbyists.
They are that large group of little folk who possess numerical superiority in licencees, owners and breeders, hold down a job or jobs to pay for their interest in the sport, and spend a greater percentage of their net disposable income to participate in the sport than many of our more wealthy patrons.
However, hobbyists appeared to get nothing from the cutting up of the pie.
The hobbyists were told that they could race at Redcliffe on a Wednesday night. That of course is a fact, but we have six TAB meetings a week, and the great number of hobbyists do not have Albion Park horses.
Basically the hobbyists have one earning opportunity in six.
One of the four meetings remaining must be transferred to a night slot to cater for these participants.
THE hands of the Doomsday Clock move swiftly to the closure of the Parklands trotting complex home of Gold Coast Harness Racing Club for the last quarter of a century.
The last race meeting on what is indisputably the best track in Australia will be held on September 27.
It is not productive to dwell on the loss of this excellent facility, for it is certain that those responsible for this closure will lose no sleep over their decision.
"Progress at any price'' is their motto.
Instead we might consider some of the winning scores amassed by drivers in the life of Parklands.
Way out in front is Grant Dixon who has led the field home in 12 of the past 13 premierships for a total of 963 victories. This and the following figures may be slightly inaccurate as they are compiled from lists of the top 15 drivers in each season.
Second home was Shane Graham with 672.
Graham was premier pilot in 2001/02 with 47 big ones.
In the preceding decade, when the club raced mainly one meeting per week, Peter Greig with 317 and Alan Donohoe with 247 were standouts.
AN Invitation Drivers Race is planned for September 27 for drivers who were in the sulky on opening night and are still active today.
John Cremin, Neale Scott, Garry Poloni, Mark Dux, Michael Dux, Wayne Graham, Peter Greig, Ray Cross, Lola Weidemann, Ken Belford, John McMullen and Mark McNee are all in line for a Guernsey.
Put the night in your appropriately coloured black book and come to the wake.
SELECTIONS for Albion Park tonight: R1 - Box trifecta 1-2-3: Caesar Supreme (A. Sanderson)-Davey J (P. McMullen)-Honkytonk Hanover (G. Whitaker).
R2: E/w 2: Chisnall (K. Rasmussen).
R3: Quinella 1-3: Schindler (B. Abbott) and Bobbee Dee Dee (B. Hewitt).
R4: Box trifecta 3-5-12: Son Of Lopez (P. McMullen)-Best Deal Yet (G. Dixon)-Acelight (K. Rasmussen).
R5: Quinella 6-11: Nothings Final (M. Neilson) and Lady White Water (G. Whitaker).
R6: Box trifecta 1-5-12: Chloe Maguire (M. Neilson)-Trickett (Mark Dux)-Woodlynn Girl (P. McMullen).
R7: Quinella 3-7: Final Champion (G. Whitaker) and Devil Dodger (G. Dixon).
R8: Quinella 1-8: Lethal Rocket (G. Dixon) and Four Tunate (B. Cowen).
R9: Box trifecta 1-2-4: Capitol Drive (K. Rasmussen)-Sunnivue Ted (M. Neilson)-Shes Commando (S. Doherty).
IT was Narissa McMullen's turn at the top of the leader board this week with five wins on locally trained horses. Training honours were shared three ways by John McMullen, Chantal Turpin and Darrel Graham.
Gold Coast, September 6: Woodlynn Girl (Pete for Shuan Gillespie); Melton Macmax (Narissa for John McMullen).
Albion Park, September 7: Supabet (Pete for Chantal McMullen).
Albion Park, September 9: In The Present (Narissa for Geoff Dawson); Certainly Why Knot (Narissa for Geoff Stansfield); King Grin (Narissa for Greg Elkins); Shes The Real Diva (Darrel Graham).
Albion Park, September 10: Lady White Water (Gary Whitaker for Bill Crosby); Riverboat Diamond (Pete for Chantal Turpin).
Redcliffe, September 11: White Eye Markei (Adam Sanderson for Darrel Graham).
Gold Coast, September 12: Melton Valueless (Narissa for John McMullen).