Ail­ing Farm has train­ers fum­ing

The Sportsman Weekend - - News - Neil Evans Fol­low me on Twit­ter @NeilE­vans­mail

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 bet­ 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

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