Calls for Sunshine Coast to hold metro meetings as concern mounts over Doomben’s bias
RACING Queensland has begun reacting to calls from the state’s leading trainers and jockeys to hold more metropolitan meetings at the Sunshine Coast as concerns over the state of the Ipswich track and the on-pace bias at Doomben reach boiling point.
The Sunshine Coast has hosted just one of the 28 metropolitan meetings held in Queensland since Eagle Farm officially closed for renovations on August 20.
This comes despite statistics obtained by The Bulletin showing the spacious Sunshine Coast course is clearly the fairest track in the state at present.
Since Eagle Farm closed, 54 per cent of all winners at the Sunshine Coast have come from the first four horses settling down in running.
In contrast, the figure is a concerning 70 per cent at Doomben and rises to 79 per cent for horses who settle in the first five in running at this track.
In fact, Doomben is playing worse than the other three major Queensland tracks in use at present.
Senior jockey Michael Cahill said the figures confirmed there was a bias problem at Brisbane’s only functioning metropolitan track.
“The statistics show it is hard to make ground at Doomben and there has been an on-pace bias at Doomben recently for whatever reason,” he said.
“I think they should move more (metro) meetings to the Sunshine Coast and when the rail is in the true position, the Sunshine Coast is as good as any track in Australia.”
Multiple Group 1-winning jockey Chris Munce said the argument of running more races at the Sunshine Coast had good points.
“Caloundra is probably the best track in Queensland and I can’t see why it shouldn’t be utilised a bit more,” he said.
With Eagle Farm out of action until at least mid-2015, leading Brisbane trainer Robert Heathcote said it was time something was done.
Doomben’s tight dimensions has meant the track has always suited frontrunners but Heathcote said it had only become an issue in recent months.
“Doomben is Doomben and it has been that way since I’ve been training in Queensland but it has been offset with Eagle Farm the following week and trainers have had options,” he said.
“Now with Eagle Farm out of the equation, personally I wish they had more Saturday metro racing on the Sunshine Coast because they presently have the best track in Queensland.”
And the message appears to be getting through.
The March 7 metropolitan meeting set down for Doomben next year is expected to be moved to the Sunshine Coast.
Also, next week’s Wednesday metropolitan meeting has been moved from Ipswich to the Sunshine Coast after jockeys expressed concern about the state of the Ipswich track on Wednesday.
Senior jockey Jim Byrne said the track was dangerous in certain areas and it was another headache RQ didn’t need after the course was renovated earlier this year.
“Ninety per cent of the track is really good but there are a couple of sections that are really bad,” Byrne said.
Along with hosting extra metro meetings, there are also calls to move Queensland’s most prestigious race, the Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap, to the Sunshine Coast next year due to the concerns at Doomben.
Heathcote and Gold Coast trainer Bryan Guy are both in favour of the move but rival trainer Tony Gollan is against the idea.
“It’s a ridiculous idea and nine times out of 10 at that time of year the track is wet up there,” he said.
“When the Sunshine Coast is wet it doesn’t dry out and it’s a swamp.
Why would you take Brisbane’s premier race and run it outside of Brisbane?”
Sunshine Coast Turf Club chief executive Mick Sullivan said the club was willing to adapt to the needs of the industry but warned the track couldn’t cope with much more racing.
“We are hosting 69 or 70 meetings (this season) now,” he said.
RQ officials did not return calls from The Bulletin yesterday.