Queensland's Winter Carnival cancelled as state scales down tracks in use
Queensland's Winter Carnival has been cancelled as Racing Queensland looks to save money for when the coronavirus crisis finally hits the sport in Australia.
Racing Queensland announced on Thursday that the carnivals for all three codes of racing would not go ahead in an attempt to extend racing's life in the state.
As part of the plan, Queensland will be divided into five regions, with horses, trainers and jockeys all required to stay and race in just one of those areas.
Racing New South Wales has developed a similar model for its jockeys, while Racing Victoria has also held discussions about the possibility of creating racing zones.
The plan, which is set to start from Sunday, will see the state's 100 racecourses brought back to just 15 active tracks. It is believed this situation will run for at least two months.
As part of the restructure, the six major racetracks in the south-east of the state will be broken into two zones. Eagle Farm, Doomben and Caloundra will be known as metro north, while Ipswich, Toowoomba and Gold Coast will be metro south west.
Central Queensland, northern, north west and the south-east coast will also all have zones.
The Courier Mail reported that by cancelling the Winter Carnival, Racing Queensland can save up to $9 million, which could be poured into a sustainability fund.
The carnivals will be replaced with standard metropolitan race programming with selected feature races.
Winter Carnival Group 1 races
Doomben 10,000 Doomben, May 9
Doomben Cup Doomben, May 16
Kingsford-Smith Cup Eagle Farm, May 23
Queensland Oaks Eagle Farm, May 30
Stradbroke Handicap Eagle Farm, June 6
Queensland Derby Eagle Farm, June 6
The J. J. Atkins Eagle Farm, June 6
Tattersalls Tiara Eagle Farm, June 20
"Given the circumstances, it's the right decision to abandon our carnivals," said Brendan Parnell, Racing Queensland CEO.
"Our carnivals are used as the shop-front to showcase our codes and to attract patrons but in this current environment it's 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."
Parnell said the decision to head to a regionalised model was to reduce risk and limit the spread of the coronavirus.
"The health and safety of our participants, who are presently confronting a challenge like no other is our paramount concern," Parnell said.
"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're 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."
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