RACING Queensland will provide $2.4 million in funding to support its TAB clubs in the short-term.
Having held patron-free meetings since March 16, RQ is acutely aware of the financial strain being placed on its clubs - including retention of employees - to ensure continuation of racing across the state. This includes mandated biosecurity measures to support the current directions relating to social distancing and personal hygiene requirements.
As of Friday, April 3, RQ will advance $1.8 million in funding to provide immediate cash flow relief and then provide a further $600,000 in emergency support for its clubs until the end of the financial year.
RQ chairman Steve Wilson said the organisation had approved the funding as part of a multi-staged approach to providing financial assistance to its clubs. "The Queensland racing industry is indebted to the role our clubs are playing in ensuring the continuation of racing during this extraordinary time. This is not the sole financial support we will provide for our clubs - it is merely the first step in a multi-staged approach that will be required to enable our industry to recover," he said.
RQ is assessing the financial impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on its racing clubs and will make further funding announcements upon its completion.
Gracie passes $500,000 earnings with Championship win
CENTRAL Queensland-bred mare Gracie Belle has now passed the $500,000 prize money mark after her rails-hugging win for Murwillumbah trainer Matthew Dunn in the prestigious NSW Country Championships Final (1400m) held at Randwick on Saturday - day one of the two-day championships.
A 4YO mare by established sire Top Echelon from the winning Royal Academy (USA) Alexandra Gardens, Gracie Belle now has six wins and six placings from 16 starts for total prize money earnings of $513,850. The mare is raced by central Queensland Thoroughbred enthusiasts Bryan and Lorraine Hall who had a dream start to 2020 with six individual winners from Townsville to the Sunshine Coast during January.
The band-wagon started on New Year's Day, when Gracie Belle resumed racing as a winner at Doomben and continued through until January 31 when their 2YO filly Java Sparrow had a debut win at Bowen.
Now Gracie Belle has extended the dream through to Easter with her Randwick win with Halls still in disbelief three days on. Jockey Kerrin McEvoy has ridden all over the world but said the series and the final was a boost for grass-roots racing. "It is a great initiative for everyone involved in the country and provincial regions," he said.
The Halls shared their January winning run with their astute Rockhampton trainer Peter Fleming preparing five different horses to win at tracks from Townsville through to Calliope all through January. In addition, Fleming also trained Gracie Belle before being transferred south during last spring to Dunn.
In addition to their January winners, the Hall/Fleming winning streak has continued with 2YO filly Sing For Violet winning four races from five starts - one each at Rockhampton and Mackay in November last year and another two at Rockhampton in March this year.
Gracie Belle endured early setbacks
SUCCESSFUL breeder Bryan Hall explained that Gracie Belle endured her share of early setbacks and problems during her racing career and unbeknown to all concerned raced successfully with a fractured rib.
Despite her problems, Gracie Belle (M 4 Top Echelon/Alexandra Gardens) won three times at Rockhampton and once at Bowen for trainer Peter Fleming. Then, having been off the racing scene since a Callaghan Park second on June 7, Gracie Bell won at her Doomben debut for Dunn on January 1. She later qualified for the Country Final by running second in a qualifying race at Grafton on February 20. The winner Plonka subsequently ran third in the final.
The Halls have a band of 12 broodmares at their Morinish 144ha property Graceville from where Gracie Belle was bred. Originally a $35,000 purchase at the 2006 Magic Millions yearling sale, Alexandra Gardens won three times in Victoria before being retired for stud duties where she produced three fillies before being on-sold through Bloodstock.com.au to the Halls.
Rockhampton racing writer Tony McMahon reports that having acquired Alexandra Gardens, the Halls selected Top Echelon for her first Queensland mating on the advice of Rockhampton trainer John O'Sing.
"We had a horse with John at the time and he pointed out that his horse Our Boy Malachi was by Top Echelon and he would be ideal for us to breed to as he was a big strong horse. That's the sort of horse (Top Echelon) you should be breeding to," Bryan Hall recalled.
Our Boy Malachi and Gracie Belle now both have the distinction of being Randwick winners although Gracie Belle is still some $400,000 short of Our Boy Malachi's total earnings of more than $946,000.
Quick Thinker too tough in Australian Derby
QUEENSLAND-bred and sold Quick Thinker added a classic success to his growing resume with a hard-fought win in the Group 1 Australian Derby (2400m) at Randwick on Saturday.
In a near replica finish to the recent Group 2 Tulloch Stakes, Quick Thinker ground down Zebrowski to win the blue riband for New Zealand trainers Murray Baker and Andrew Forsman.
A 3YO colt by So You Think (NZ) from the Al Maher mare Acouplamas, Quick Thinker was bred by Andrew Bowcock - a fourth generation breeder who formerly operated Alanbridge Stud at Aberdeen, NSW, for 18 years before moving to Queensland. Quick Thinker is now the fifth Group 1 winner associated with Bowcock.
"We formerly stood Beautiful Crown at Alanbridge who sired Caulfield Guineas winner In Top Swing while we also bred dual Group 1 winner Response who in turn is the dam of 2018 Golden Slipper winner Estijaab. In addition, we also prepared internationally acclaimed sprinter and sire Choisir for the 2001 Inglis Classic yearling sale where he sold for $55,000," Bowcock said.
While Andrew and wife Lasca live in Brisbane, their small band of brood mares are based at Holbrook, NSW, and at weaning age their foals are transferred to Kandice Pritchard's KBL Thoroughbreds near Beaudesert to be prepared for yearling sales.
Fourth Australian Derby win for trainer
QUICK Thinker's win was the fourth Australian Derby for co-trainer Murray Baker (and second with training partner Andrew Forsman). Baker told reporters he would speak to part owner Terry Henderson of OTI Racing to see whether the 3YO would back-up in the Queen Elizabeth Stakes the next Saturday, April 11.
While the performances of Quick Thinker and Zebrowski were impressive, Queensland visitor Eric the Eel lost no fans with his closing third. He was also backing up in seven days - but also had a float trip from Brisbane to Sydney thrown in as well.
Quick Thinker was pin-hooked by Sydney-based bloodstock agent James Bester for $180,000 at the 2017 Magic Millions National Weanling Sale and was then re-offered at the 2018 Inglis Easter yearling sale in the Coolmore draft where he was sold for $100,000 to de Burgh Equine. In fact, Irish bloodstock agent Hubie de Burgh was given the instruction by OTI Racing's Terry Henderson "to buy a 3YO stayer for around $100,000'' from the Easter Yearling Sale with Quick Thinker the stunning result.
As well as Quick Thinker, dam Acouplamas has also produced the Flemington 2YO winner and 3YO group performer The August. Acouplamas - who hails from the family of Victoria Derby winner Blackfriars and Queensland-based sire Waterford Road - won two races and earned black type when second to Devoirs in the listed Princess Stakes at Eagle Farm.
Bowcock bought Acouplamas for $115,000 at the 2013 National Broodmare Sale on the Gold Coast when offered by Widden Stud. Last year her Zoustar colt, prepared by KBL for Bowcock Bloodstock, was bought for $1.075 million by Yulong Investments in partnership with RIFA Mustang.
Magic Millions delays National Sale
THE Magic Millions National Sale - Australia's biggest by numbers - will be put back in 2020 until the second half of the year from its traditional late May/early June time slot.
The revised schedule is:
- National Broodmare and Weanling Sale - July 20-24
- National Yearling Sale - July 28-30
- 2YOs In Training and Spring Mixed Sale - October 12-13
Magic Millions managing director Barry Bowditch said in a message to vendors on the auction house's website: "All of our team here at Magic Millions respect the fact that you, our clients, are concerned about sales changes and market adjustments. Just be assured that we are looking to adjust these to do the best thing by you.
"It's our obligation to you to hold the best auction we possibly can to provide you with the best opportunity to sell your horse. To assist you in planning, we have put together a tentative sales schedule which can be seen on our website or social media channels."
Vale Darryl Gollan
THE Queensland racing industry is mourning the loss of Darryl Gollan who died on Saturday, April 4, aged 76.
Widely respected across the industry, Gollan spent time as a trainer, owner and breeder, earning a reputation in the Darling Downs for his strong work ethic and ongoing success with two-year-olds. His son, Tony, has carved out an illustrious career in his own right after winning the past six Metropolitan Trainers' Premierships in Brisbane.
Racing Queensland CEO Brendan Parnell was among those to pay his respects to the Gollan family. "The Queensland racing industry has lost a loyal servant and we extend our condolences to Paulette, Tony and the entire Gollan family. He was a horseman who intimately knew his craft - it's not hard to understand why Tony is so successful," he said.
Gollan was the part-owner of champion galloper Dalrello who won the 1975 Group 1 Doncaster Handicap. Dalrello's trainer, the late Jim Atkins, rated Dalrello - who also won two Group 1 All Aged Stakes - among the best horses he saw in 70 years in Queensland racing.
Gollan was a publican on the Darling Downs for many years but mixed it with being a successful trainer based at Toowoomba. He trained more than 300 winners with his best horses including top 2YO Novajinsky and outstanding sprinter Bimbadeen.