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By David Fowler | Tuesday, September 6, 2011

David Fowler is the principal thoroughbred caller for Radio TAB, taking the position upon Wayne Wilson's retirement last August. David, who is a keen form student and punter, has enjoyed a lifetime involvement in the racing media. His personal blog, ‘My Call’, appears exclusively on HRO.

The Cairns community needs the Amateurs Carnival to succeed and succeed strongly.

And if the 2011 version is a yardstick to that success, they are headed in the right direction.

To put it simply the Cairns economy is in the doldrums, propelled by a stagnant tourism industry.

Yes, the Japanese still visit but not in droves like yesteryear.

Tourism talent scouts are now exploring the opportunities of enticing the Chinese and even the Indians to the city

Each year I visit, there is another business or two or three with the doors closed.

The Cairns CBD resembles a ghost town at different times.

The Amateurs Carnival faced some critical times a few years ago, but the committee under the enthusiastic stewardship of Michael Delaney has grabbed the ball and run with it.

The influx of visitors to Cairns over the week adds a much needed boost to the struggling economy.


The committee were delighted with the Saturday roll up and happy enough with the Friday turnout.

The decision to set up "Amateurs Aviary" inside the racing circuit gave both days an injection of atmosphere.

The long row of corporate marquees is visually impressive as well, beaming great shots out to Australia and other parts of the world.

Another masterstroke was for the FNQ Amateur Turf Club to broker a joint administration agreement with the Cairns Jockey Club.

Graham Thornton runs a smooth ship as CEO of both clubs.


Sometimes you need some luck on your side.

Rain on either day of the Carnival would be like a hole in the head not only from a hospitality point of view but also in terms of the racing surface.

The Cannon Park circuit is in urgent need of repair and RQ's financial package as part of the Infrastructure Plan can't come quickly enough.

Last year with a heavy track on both days, rain started to fall midway through the last race.

Could you believe it, exactly twelve months later, down it came as the last horse went past the post.


The social schedule is just as hectic as the racing is on the track.

The Tulloch Club gets the ball rolling with their luncheon on the eve of the Carnival and then it's a swift back-up for the welcoming cocktail party that night.

Races are run and won on Friday before the Amateurs' Ball that night which regularly attracts a two thousand plus crowd and then it's racing again on Saturday.

And it's rare if you don't find a visitor or two in-between at your hotel of choice to catch up on old times or racing matters.

These types of carnivals are fast fading from the racing landscape. The Cairns carnival is unique in many ways and on this year's results, its future looks assured.


A couple of tips to end this week's blog out of the Cairns carnival.

Visiting Caulfield trainer Tony Vasil was the Tulloch Club's special guest and he strongly suggests you follow Classic Elle during the Melbourne spring.

She's only had the three starts including a cracking third in the Crockett Stakes at Moonee Valley a fortnight ago and her main aim is the Thousand Guineas.

Keep a watch out for a neddy named Cheval Argente. He's likely to turn up in a no-metro-win race at Doomben or Eagle Farm and he'll be more than capable on what he showed on the weekend.

And rookie Mackay trainer Darren Symons is one man to keep an eye on. He turns his horses out in immaculate order and has a good strike rate. The stable performed well during the two days of racing.

Until next week.

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David Fowler
David Fowler
Queensland's Own www.horseracingonly.com.au Queensland's Best