Ailing Farm has trainers fuming
NO track, or club, is under more pressure tomorrow than Eagle Farm in Brisbane.
In fact, the entire Brisbane Racing Club (BRC) management was locked away in a lengthy board meeting until lunch time yesterday as a band of criticism deepened.
The Eagle Farm surface – again the target racing anger gets another crack at mending its wounded carnival reputation, just one month before the ultimate verdict is delivered.
Through week, disgruntled trainers and riders forced BRC officials to hastily retreat behind closed doors.
Trainers and riders were again complaining the surface proper had not bound together, and was like a heavy rating, “chopping out” way too easily even under modest track gallop conditions. After all the time and multi millions invested Eagle Farm still seems incapable of knitting absorbing, even reacting to any water.
So the thought of runners striding through it on race day is again under a nervous and giant microscope.
Leading trainers Chris Munce and Tony Gollan led cries for the track to be ripped up.
“It hasn’t improved or even recovered, and there is no footing underneath. The only way they are going to fix it is rip it up,” Munce said. Gollan said he expected the track be play no better than disastrous performance on March 13. Of course, like many things in racing, time is the vicious argument.
A year ago the club demanded all stakeholders give the track time to grow and produce but that
is up seemingly nothing’s changed.
But upbeat BRC Chief Executive Dave Whimpey came out of a board meeting yesterday to tell me: “The track is in a period high-growth and reconsolidation, and we have no rain for the next 72 hours, so I expect we will improve to a Soft 6 or even 5”.
Certainly, the club believes some trainers are jumping the gun and the BRC has no intention of interrupting the schedule ahead. While admitting Tuesday’s track gallops were “not pleasing to the eye,” Mr Whimpey remains confident the track will improve and be up to scratch under race conditions.
“We roll the track, that compaction improvement will come,” he added.
He confirmed too the rail (+1m tomorrow) would be pushed out at least 12 metres for next Wednesday’s low-key meeting – the last before the first of the big Group 1 carnival days on May 27 to protect the inside going.
Earlier, BRC Chairman Neville Bell said: “We want to do the right thing by the punting and race-going public, but we also have look after this track.”
Somehow, they all go together but time is money and the alarm bell is ringing.
Just over two weeks back, Eagle Farm finally opened its new $20 million stabling complex after a troubled 12 month delay, with most of Queensland’s leading trainers now housed in a 430-box in-field facility.
But while the BRC hailed the new state-of-the-art development, criticism was swift over perceived “city slicker” approach at the expense of battling rural centres.
At time, Mr Bell said: “There is no doubt prizemoney levels, especially in provincial areas, have to increase – that is now recognised by Racing QLD and the State Government.”
Trouble is financial hands are somewhat tied and any significant statewide stakes increases a long way off.
NO such problems for the bustling Hawkesbury club ahead of their stand-alone triple Group 3 meeting tomorrow on what should be a Good 4 surface and true rail – and it’s one of the strongest cards depth-wise in club’s history.
Certainly feature $200K Gold Cup (1600m) is as open as parts of the nearby Hawkesbury River, although four-year-old gelding Moher ($12.00 into $8.50 at betting.club) was one runner to firm in early action.
In the Hawkesbury Guineas (1400m) early moves came for Calanda ($5.00 into $4.60) and Newcastle raider Rosa Carolina ($15.00 into $13.00) but I’ll be riding with locally-trained filly Spright ($5.00) whose closing effort in the Group 2 Arrowfield at Randwick on April 8 was a lovely lead-up. My GOLD CUP Tips: 1. MOHER; 2. Havana Cooler; 3. Jessy Belle; 4. Spectroscope. My GUINEAS Tips: 1. SPRIGHT; 2. Calanda; 3. Prompt Response.
BRC Chief Executive Dave Whimpey expects the Eagle Farm track surface to improve over time