RACING in Queensland will ride The Wave this summer with the introduction of a new $250,000 feature race on the Gold Coast and an expanded Magic Millions program for 2020.
Staged on January 4 as part of Aquis Raceday, The Wave will be staged under weight-for-age conditions for 3YO and 4YO horses over 1800m and will also offer the winner a wildcard to the $1 million Magic Millions Trophy and a $200,000 Magic Millions bonus if nominated to its Race Series.
In total, six Magic Millions wildcards will be offered throughout the TAB Queensland Summer Carnival - an increase of two from four last year - with a wildcard to the $1 million Magic Millions QTIS Open also available through the QTIS Handicap at Eagle Farm on December 28.
While The Wave is expected to headline the newly implemented Aquis Raceday, the QTIS 2YO Handicap - most recently won by fillies Houtzen, Sunlight and Exhilarates on route to winning the Magic Millions 2YO Classic - has been split into same sex divisions through the creation of the $125,000 Aquis Gold Nugget 2YO C&G (1100m) and the $125,000 Aquis Gold Pearl 2YO Fillies (1100m).
Further enhancements include three exclusive Magic Millions races - two of those new - totalling $750,000 in prize money. They are:
- The new $250,000 Magic Millions Rising Stars 3YO & 4YO C&G (1300m);
- The new $250,000 Magic Millions Rising Stars 3YO & 4YO F&M (1300m); and
- The relocated $250,000 Magic Millions Country Cup (1200m) formerly run on Magic Millions Raceday.
"To have two major Saturdays during the Summer Carnival has always been our plan and it's fantastic that we can truly bring this to life. It's great to have Gerry Harvey and Katie Page's extra involvement with the club through their Magic Millions brand; these types of new initiatives continue to help us progress towards our long-term goal of becoming a regular metropolitan race club in Queensland," Gold Coast Turf Club chairman Brett Cook said.
GCTC chief executive officer Steve Lines added he was delighted with the Aquis Raceday enhancements including consecutive meetings on the Gold Coast. "Having Aquis on board as the major sponsor - and with the ongoing support of Magic Millions and Racing Queensland - provides a two-day carnival that would be the envy of any race club in Australia," he said.
Guineas bonus bolsters MM Raceday
THE popular Magic Millions Racing Women's Bonus held on Magic Millions Raceday - which offers a $500,000 bonus on the Magic Millions 2YO Classic - has been expanded to include a new $250,000 bonus on the Gold Coast Magic Millions 3YO Guineas.
Offering more than $10 million in prize money and bonuses, the Magic Millions Raceday remains the richest on the Queensland calendar.
With the 2020 Magic Millions Raceday due to be held on Saturday, January 11, the new bonus is one of several initiatives that include the introduction of the $250,000 Magic Millions Open Handicap (1800m) which replaces the relocated Magic Millions Country Cup. The $1 million Magic Millions Trophy also increases in distance from 2200m to 2400m.
"The evolution of the Summer Carnival is a direct result of the program and fantastic prize money on offer," Magic Millions CEO Barry Bowditch said.
"It's simply a quality carnival. The new Magic Millions races enable increased returns to owners and trainers plus greater opportunity to be part of the most exciting sales and racing carnival in the world. We are committed and invested to working alongside Racing Queensland to build a new and sustainable era of thoroughbred excellence in this state to benefit the racing industry more broadly," he said.
Summer Carnival takes shape
HAVING previously announced the introduction of The Gateway at Eagle Farm - a new $250,000 race exclusively for 4YOs which will provide the winner with a ballot-free exemption into the 2020 Stradbroke Handicap - the 2019/20 Summer Carnival has now taken shape.
In total, more than $20 million in prize money and bonuses will go on offer including 20 black-type races, the popular Origin Jockey Series and a new home for the Group 3 Grand Prix Stakes. The Summer Carnival also marks the first time that QTISx bonuses, which recognise and reward the Queensland breeding industry, are on offer.
The 2019/20 TAB Queensland Summer Carnival will begin on the Sunshine Coast on Saturday, November 16 before culminating at The Star Magic Millions on the Gold Coast on Saturday, January 11.
"The creation of the Gold Nugget is also a unique way to recognise our past and celebrate our future as we pay homage to the forerunner to the Magic Millions," RQ CEO Brendan Parnell said.
"The introduction of The Wave and the new Magic Millions races - along with the additional enhancements including the new Magic Millions Racing Women's Bonus - will ensure the Summer Carnival continues to go from strength-to-strength. The endorsement of Magic Millions - through Gerry and Katie Harvey - to expand their investment in Queensland is particularly pleasing," he said.
Northern Crowns Series still active
THE two TAB Queensland Northern Crown Series for sprinters and stayers are still alive with both The Harrovian and Mr Attitude nominated for the 2100m Cairns Amateurs Cup and 1400m Cairns Open Sprint respectively being held this Saturday, September 14.
What began as a small amateur meeting in 1959, designed to bring city and country together, has expanded over the years to become one of Australia's premier spring horse racing carnivals. Officially known as the Far North Queensland Amateur Turf Club, the now two day carnival has become widely, and affectionately, known as The Cairns Amateurs.
Debut president Ross Moller is thrilled that both the Harrovian and Mr Attitude were among the 216 nominations received for the 15 TAB races programmed across the two-day carnival on Friday and Saturday, September 13 and 14 and that corporate marquees had almost doubled from six to 11 on Ladies Day - traditionally the first day of the carnival.
First introduced in 2018, the Northern Crowns Series offers a $150,000 bonus to any horse that can secure three of the five staying races held across Rockhampton, Mackay, Townsville, Cairns and FNQ Amateurs - the bonus swells to $200,000 should one of the three wins include the FNQ Amateurs Cup on September 14. The incentive scheme is mirrored for sprinters with a $100,000 bonus initially on offer, which rises to $150,000 if victory includes the Cairns Amateurs Open Sprint.
Racing Queensland CEO Brendan Parnell said by offering up to $350,000 in bonuses - in addition to record prize money - there had been real incentive for trainers to target the Northern Crowns and extend their horses' campaigns throughout the entire carnival. Apart from the bonuses, the Cup carries $150,000 prize money including $87,000 to the winner while the Open Sprint is worth $75,000 with $42,700 allocated to the winner.
Only two horses are still in the running for the lucrative bonuses. One is local Cairns-based Townsville and Cairns Cup winner The Harrovian - the other is Rockhampton based gelding Mr Attitude who put himself in line for the sprinter's bonus when he won the Townsville's Cleveland Bay Handicap and the Mackay Newmarket.
The Harrovian is co-owned by Cairns Turf Club president Tom Hedley and trained by Stephen Massingham - the same successful combination which provided last year's Cup winner Multifacets. This year's Cup has 18 nominations including recent Townsville Amateurs Cup winner Sensation Ally and last year's Cairns Cup winner We Just Love It.
Mr Attitude gave jockey Les Tilley and Rockhampton trainer Ricky Vale a run of six wins from seven starts including the Cleveland Bay and Mackay Newmarket before a heavy track put paid to his chances when he tried to clinch the sprint bonus by winning the Cairns Newmarket on August 3. The winner was Mackay-based Scherzoso who returns for the Open Sprint while Townsville Amateurs Sprint winner Imanui is also among the 21 nominations for the lucrative 1400m open sprint.
French Hussler wins Birdsville Cup
BARCALDINE trainer Todd Austin won Saturday's Birdsville Cup for a second time when his recent acquisition French Hussler survived a dramatic protest in the 137th running of the iconic outback event.
More than 8000 racegoers descended on the tiny town of Birdsville close to the intersection of the Queensland, Northern Territory and South Australian borders to party and punt across two days of racing on September 6 and 7.
A fully funded country TAB meeting for the first time, the carnival offered record prizemoney of $233,500 - an increase of 14 per cent from 2018 - with prizemoney awarded to top 10 finishers across all 13 races which attracted more than 140 starters from stables in Queensland, NSW, South Australia and Northern Territory.
Ridden by NSW apprentice Clayton Gallagher, French Hussler won by a neck from Eschielle with Java third, giving Austin his second Birdsville Cup win following his victory with Primed in 2013.
Austin has attended more than 25 Birdsville Cups as both a jockey and trainer. His wife Toni co-owns French Hussler with Blackall-based Pam Carolan. Pam's husband Bob is the local painting contractor and has raced many horses over many years with Todd. Pam and Bob opted not to travel to Birdsville but watched French Hussler's win through Sky Racing's television coverage at home in Blackall.
A 9YO gelding, French Hussler is by Hussonet (USA) from the Flying Spur mare Paris Plaits and was sold for $30,000 at the 2012 Inglis Melbourne Premier yearling sale. A Caulfield winner, Paris Plaits has been a productive broodmare with five winners including Flying Tessie (Testa Rossa) who was three times Group 3 placed in Melbourne and Brisbane.
Originally trained in Victoria by Matthew Williams, French Hussler won three races in country Victoria before being on-sold to Rockhampton-based John Wiggington who won a further nine races with him including seven at Rockhampton. His first run for new trainer Todd Austin was a second at Tambo, followed by two unplaced runs as Muttaburra and Betoota before culminating in his Birdsville Cup win. He now has earnings of more than $225,000 from 13 wins and 22 placings.