Racing Queensland wants to internationalise the Winter Carnival and attract foreign trainers
HAVING boosted Stradbroke prizemoney to $2 million, Racing Queensland is now keen to internationalise the Winter Carnival and attract high-class foreign-trained runners.
Melbourne Cup scout Leigh Jordan has been retained as an agent by Racing Queensland to help open the doors of communication with international trainers, starting with Japan and Hong Kong runners.
There will also be approaches made to connections of suitable European-based horses.
RQ have made a joint funding application with the Brisbane Racing Club to Tourism and Events Queensland to help turn the Winter Carnival into a truly international event.
“We know this is not going to happen overnight, but this is a five-year strategy that has the potential to take this carnival to another level,” RQ chief executive Darren Condon said.
The Winter Carnival clashes with the prestigious Royal Ascot carnival in the UK and has suffered in the past decade, with top Australian horses seeking to either enhance their stud value or simply the prestige that comes with racing during that famous royally attended week.
Condon conceded many people will laugh off the chances of attracting horses from that part of the world, but said RQ is determined to make this happen.
“We’re going after an entirely different horse to what races at Royal Ascot,” Condon said.
“This is a $2 million sprint handicap and we believe we have a compelling argument to attract horses to this carnival.”
Jordan speaks to owners and trainers all around the world in his role of recruiting runners for the Melbourne Cup, which this year could have up to a dozen northern hemisphere-trained runners.
“The indication from Leigh is that a 1400m handicap, with a $2 million purse, is unique in world racing,” Condon said.
Condon stated categorically there will be no changes to the conditions of the Stradbroke and it will remain a handicap.
He pointed out that does not exclude the highest class horses from running, with handicaps much more compressed than they were two decades ago.
“The challenge is there for a higher-performed horse to run and we believe the $2 million carrot will tempt connections of those type of horses to run,” he said.