New-look Summer Carnival includes Stradbroke exemption

New-look Summer Carnival includes Stradbroke exemption

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Phillip Bate analyses news from the Queensland racing scene.

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A NEW-LOOK TAB Queensland Summer Carnival will soon be unveiled including the introduction of The Gateway which will provide the winner with a ballot-free exemption into the 2020 Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap.

In the first of several exciting announcements, Racing Queensland has confirmed the nine weeks Summer Carnival - featuring 22 black-type races along with a raft of prize money increases - will begin at the Sunshine Coast on Saturday, November 16 and culminate at the $10 million Gold Coast Magic Millions Race Day on Saturday, January 11.

The path to the Magic Millions will be enhanced by three consecutive Saturday meetings at Eagle Farm beginning on December 14 with The Gateway - a new $250,000 race exclusively for 4YOs over 1400m with the winner securing a guaranteed berth in the time-honoured Stradbroke Handicap.

The Group 3 Grand Prix Stakes for three-year-olds will be moved from its traditional winter timeslot to a new summer home on December 21, and in the process, will enjoy a prize money increase from $150,000 to $250,000 to become the Final of the 3YO Stayers Series.

Finally, the Road to the Magic Millions Race Day on December 28 will offer five upgraded black-type races and four chances to secure a lucrative wildcard into Queensland's richest raceday at the Gold Coast.

Trekking wins the Stradbroke Handicap at Eagle Farm on June 8. (AAP Image/Albert Perez)

Trekking wins the Stradbroke Handicap at Eagle Farm on June 8. (AAP Image/Albert Perez)

Other prize money increases announced include:

  • An uplift for two-year-olds in the B.J. McLachlan Stakes ($200,000 to $250,000);
  • Increased prize money for three-year-old sprinters in the Gold Edition Plate ($125,000 to $200,000) and the Vo Rogue Plate ($200,000 to $300,000);
  • In addition to the richer Grand Prix Stakes, increased prize money for 3YO stayers in the Eagle Way heats ($85,000 to $105,000); and
  • Fillies and mares prize boost in The Nudgee ($125,000 to $200,000).

"The TAB Queensland Summer Carnival is rapidly emerging. We've introduced a number of exciting initiatives including The Gateway which provides the perfect platform for sprinters looking to secure a berth in the Stradbroke," RQ CEO Brendan Parnell said.

"Working closely with the Brisbane Racing Club, 3YO sprint and staying races have also received a major boost. But we're not done yet, and we look forward to sharing further enhancements in the near future," he said.

With the TAB Origin Jockeys Series being staged at Doomben and Eagle Farm on December 13 and 14, the Friday meeting will feature the listed $125,000 Phelan Ready and Calaway Gal for 2YOs.

Brisbane Racing Club chairman Neville Bell said the exciting new program would provide high-quality racing across the Summer Carnival. "The Gateway is a new $250,000 race for 4YOs that will provide the winner with a guaranteed start in the TAB Stradbroke. We also look forward to the switch to summer of the Grand Prix - a race that has been won by the greats of the turf such as Kingston Town, Surround and Balmerino," Mr Bell said.

'Grande' results include Gympie Muster Cup

Brisbane visitors pictured with Gympie Muster Cup sponsor Terry Nolan (third left) were (from left): Former Victorian farmer and racing enthusiast John OToole, former Queensland Country Life market columnist Stan Wallace and Queensland Country Life and North Queensland Thoroughbred columnist Phillip Bate. Picture: Mark Phelps

Brisbane visitors pictured with Gympie Muster Cup sponsor Terry Nolan (third left) were (from left): Former Victorian farmer and racing enthusiast John OToole, former Queensland Country Life market columnist Stan Wallace and Queensland Country Life and North Queensland Thoroughbred columnist Phillip Bate. Picture: Mark Phelps

SUNSHINE Coast trainer Trevor Thomas has gambled twice in the past 10 weeks with 'grande' results - specifically his recently purchased mare Grande Casadora who won last Saturday's Nolan Gympie Muster Cup.

The first gamble occurred in early June when Thomas paid $1100 at an on-line auction for the lightly raced 4YO mare who had one win and five placings from 22 starts in the NSW Northern Rivers district. The second happened on the Gympie Muster Cup program when he scratched the mare from a Benchmark 50 Handicap to run in the Muster Cup Open Handicap. Both races were at the same 1470m distance but there was a substantial prizemoney jump of almost $10,000 between the $6500 first prizemoney for the Benchmark 50 and $15,360 for the Cup winner.

In fact Thomas recouped his $1100 outlay very quickly with the mare running fourth first-up at Gympie followed by two wins at Wondai and Gympie to earn $12,300. Then Thomas opted to start her in the Muster Cup with a field that included dual Bundaberg and Nanango Cups winner Executed at his past two starts, recent Battle of the Bush finalists Fab's Cowboy and Marksfield and former dual Muster Cup winner Fasta Than Light. The gamble paid off with Grande Casadora winning the Cup with a half-length margin to Fab's Cowboy as runner-up and a further 6.8 lengths to Fasta Than Light in third place.

There are now 27,660 reasons to keep Grande Casadora racing on sand tracks such as Wondai and Gympie. Prior to arriving in Queensland, her previous 22 starts were all on turf. Her subsequent four starts - with 3kg claiming apprentice jockey Louise Dillon in the saddle - have all been on sand with three wins in succession and a further $27,660 prizemoney banked.

Her affinity with sand tracks can be largely attributed to her former shuttle sire Big Brown (USA) who won three of his four Group 1 victories on sand. Notably two of those were the first two legs of the USA 3YO Triple Crown - the Kentucky Derby at Churchill Downs and the Preakness Stakes at Pimlico.

Having also won at 1710m at Grafton, it also seems evident that Grande Casadora inherited stamina from both her sire and dam. All four of Big Brown's Group 1 wins were between 1800 and 2000m while her dam Diana Cazadora was a 2000m 3YO Group 1 winner in Chile. The prepotent sire Northern Dancer also appears three times in Grande Casadora's pedigree through his sire sons Danzig, Nureyev and Sadler's Wells.

Gympie Turf Club secretary Kristi Hollis reported there were more than 1700 people in attendance - the second biggest race day crowd behind the club's 150th anniversary meeting last year - while the original 80 acceptances across the five race program was a record by a country mile!

I attended the Gympie Muster Cup as a guest at the Nolan family's marquee and travelled to Gympie by bus courtesy of the Breakfast Creek Hotel as did former QCL scribe Stan Wallace, recently retired Breakfast Creek Hotel manager Sam Gullo and new manager Lance Burrows. Repeat feature attraction at the marquee was a Punter's Club run by Gold Coast-based race-day compere Mark Forbes.

Country Cups Challenge gets prizemoney boost

The Country Cups Challenge will bring together the winners of 16 Country Cups held across Queensland between September and November.

The Country Cups Challenge will bring together the winners of 16 Country Cups held across Queensland between September and November.

RACING Queensland (RQ) has increased prizemoney by $30,000 from $75,000 to $105,000 for the metropolitan final of its second 'Country Cups Challenge' to be held on one of the Summer Racing Carnival's most popular days.

Set for Group 3 George Moore Stakes Day at Doomben on November 30, the Country Cups Challenge will bring together the winners of 16 Country Cups held across Queensland between September and November.

With the inaugural series held last year, the exciting challenge complements the Battle of the Bush Series - also launched last year - which again brought 16 sprinters from the country to the city on Sky Racing Tattersall's Tiara Day held on Saturday, June 22.

Last year's Country Cups final carried $75,000 with the winner Baker Boy receiving $42,700. This year's $105,000 total prize pool - up 40 per cent - comprises: 1st $61,000; 2nd $20,500; 3rd $10,500; 4th $5000; 5th $3000; 6th to 10th $1000.

Similar to this year's Battle of the Bush final, a QTIS Bonus of $30,000 will be paid to the winner if it is a QTIS registered horse, irrespective of the horse's age. In the case of a dead-heat the bonus will be divided.

The final will be run under the conditions of a Quality Handicap (1600m) race, with qualifiers required to have competed in no less than three non-TAB races in the 12 months immediately preceding acceptance date for that qualifying race.

Like the Battle of the Bush Series, float subsidies will be paid to the trainers of horses that remain in the final field after final scratching time.

The qualifying races are:

  • September 29: Longreach, Longreach Cup Open Hcp 1600m
  • September 29: Ewan, Ewan Cup Class 6 Hcp 1600m
  • October 5: Mount Isa, Spring Cup Open Hcp 1450m
  • October 5: Tara, Tara Cup Open Hcp 1400m
  • October 12: Bowen, Bowen Battlers Cup Open Hcp 1470m
  • October 12: Cloncurry, Cloncurry Cup Open Hcp 1400m
  • October 12: Emerald, Emerald 100 Open Hcp 1850m
  • October 19: Blackall, Blackall Cup Open Plate 1400m
  • October 19: Innisfail, Innisfail Cup Open Hcp 2000m
  • October 19: Stanthorpe, Stanthorpe Cup Open Hcp 1400m
  • October 26: Gympie, Gympie Cup Open Hcp 1600m
  • November 2: Yeppoon, Yeppoon Newmarket Open Hcp 1400m
  • November 3: Cairns, Cairns City Cup Open Hcp 1400m
  • November 5: Charleville, Charleville Cup Open Hcp 1620m
  • November 5: Kumbia, Kumbia Cup Open Hcp 1400m
  • November 16: Roma, Roma Cup Open Hcp 1640m
  • November 30: Brisbane, FINAL, Rest 0MWL2Y Quality Hcp

2019 Queensland champions announced

TWO Darling Downs studs have dominated this year's Thoroughbred Breeders Queensland Association (TBQA) Queensland Champion Stallions Awards.

Eureka Stud at Cambooya, near Toowoomba is home to the 2019 Queensland Champion Stallion - Spirit of Boom. Spirit of Boom was last year's Champion 2YO Sire and Champion First Season Sire and his progeny are continuing to be successful as they mature.

This season (2018/19), Spirit of Boom produced 129 runners for 62 winners including five stakes winners with total earnings $5,756,050. His top runner was Boomsara who banked $1,349,100.

It was double success for Lyndhurst Stud at Warwick. Their promising young stallion, Better than Ready, really hit the ground running taking out both the 2019 Queensland Champion 2YO Sire and Champion First Season Sire.

Better than Ready had 47 runners for 23 winners including three Stakes winners, with prizemoney totalling $2,032,420. His top runner was the Kelly Schweida trained 2YO Jewel Champion, The Odyssey, who collected $557,550 for connections.

TBQA president Basil Nolan congratulated both studs for taking out the highly sought-after awards. "There are hundreds of stallions, so it's not an easy task to produce consistent winners. Both Spirit Of Boom and Better Than Ready have had a significant impact on the national racing industry and their progeny are highly sought after by Australia's top trainers," Mr Nolan said.

"The fact that both these stallions are so young is great for the future of the Queensland breeding industry and we look forward to watching their progress," he said.

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