RQ TO INTRODUCE DESIGNATED RACING REGIONS
Racing Queensland will implement designated race regions across the state from next week in a bid to further quarantine the industry from the current COVID-19 pandemic.
With a raft of biosecurity measures already in place, including patron-free racing and a mandatory 14-day self-isolation period for licensed participants, RQ will introduce measures from Sunday that will provide five key thoroughbred regions and four key greyhound regions as part of a multi-staged approach to health and safety.
As part of the decision, thoroughbred racing will be consolidated to 15 racetracks and jockeys will be permitted to race in one of the five designated regions.
Trainers and stable staff will be further restricted to one of eight zones (eg: Darling Downs or South East but not both).
During this period, horses or greyhounds will NOT be permitted to be transferred between zones for the purpose of racing.
Furthermore, any horse or greyhound that is presently domiciled inter-state and does not enter Queensland by 11.59pm on Sunday, March 29, will not be allocated a region and will no longer be able to race until further notice.
Horses or greyhounds will be permitted to be transferred across regions for non-racing purposes such as agistment or re-homing.
The thoroughbred regions are:
• Metro North (Brisbane and Sunshine Coast);
• Metro South West (Gold Coast, Ipswich and Toowoomba);
• Darling Downs and SEQ Coast;
• Central West and Central; and
• North West and North.
In the greyhound code, RQ will allocate a trainer to one of four designated regions, with the trainer restricted to racing in that region.
The greyhound regions are:
• South East Queensland (Albion Park, Ipswich and Capalaba);
• Wide Bay (Bundaberg);
• Central Queensland (Rockhampton); and
• North Queensland.
The Queensland harness racing industry will continue at its three major tracks at Albion Park, Redcliffe and Marburg with strict participation restrictions in place.
“The health and safety of our participants, who are presently confronting a challenge like no other is our paramount concern,” said RQ CEO Brendan Parnell.
“These are unprecedented times and they call for unprecedented measures.
“We must do everything within our powers to provide for the 40,000 Queenslanders who participate across the state.
“These are their livelihoods that are at stake.
“By introducing a regional racing model, we are able to further support the Queensland Government’s direction to stay local, reduce non-essential travel and to limit the spread of this insidious virus.
“In this instance, the sheer size of Queensland is advantageous. The state is almost eight times larger than Victoria and twice the size of NSW and this presents racing a unique challenge and opportunity.
“While none of us know what is on the horizon, we can reduce the risk, limit the spread and collectively work together for the greater good.”
Given the imminent introduction of regionalised racing, RQ has resolved to abandon the up-coming winter carnivals for thoroughbreds, greyhounds and harness participants.
The carnivals will be replaced with standard metropolitan race programming with selected feature races.
“Given the circumstances, it is the right decision to abandon our carnivals,” Mr Parnell said.
“Our carnivals are used as the shop-front to showcase our codes and to attract patrons, and in this current environment, it is not responsible.
“We will of course refund all nomination fees already received for the Future Champions Series that was to be staged at the Brisbane Racing Club.
“With restrictions on inter-state travel, the quality of racing will be diluted. More importantly, however, we will require the funding to be directed to assist our stakeholders in their hour of need.”
In order to implement the regional racing model, RQ will be forced to abandon Sunday’s programmed thoroughbred meetings at the Sunshine Coast Turf Club and the Nanango Race Club.
Thoroughbred racing will recommence at the Mackay Turf Club on Tuesday, March 31 and will be restricted to Central Coast participants.