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By David Fowler | Tuesday, September 3, 2019

David Fowler is the principal thoroughbred caller for Radio TAB. 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 “lure of the lights” appears to be an irresistible path that Racing Queensland is marching along.

Aquis Park at the Gold Coast is odds-on to be lit up by early 2021 and Doomben is a strong tip to follow suit.

Sunshine Coast and Toowomba already offer twilight or night meetings with their well established access to lights.

While it might appear straightforward to implement and “sexy” in its approach, there is a lot to consider.

Make no mistake, Racing Queensland is driving the Gold Coast and Doomben projects from a viewpoint of increasing turnover.

I’m certain they have ample evidence that turnover soars between 4pm and 8pm, generally described as the twilight zone.

I would argue that turnover after 8pm might not be as buoyant, particularly if the meeting is flying solo.

There has been much chatter about a Magic Millions conducted in the night. Similar conversation has often been directed to the timing of the Cox Plate.

Forget it. When the lights are turned on at Aquis Park, you can expect their biggest day will encompass a 3pm to 8pm timeslot with the MM run between 6pm and 7pm.

Saturday … and I stress the “day” part of the word … is too fertile a time zone to depart from totally.

It would also seem a formality that a lit Aquis Park could run parallel to the popular and well established Moonee Valley Friday nights.

Gold Coast’s holiday atmosphere in the summer should ensure robust on-track attendances.

But it’s worth remembering the Gold Coast Turf Club members are strong in number and relish their Saturday afternoon experience.

It would be highly doubtful if the GCTC could have its cake and eat it too. In other words, there won’t be a Friday night card followed by one 12 hours later.

Food for thought.


The lighting of Doomben is a different ball game, more skewed to practicalities than promotion.

Racing Queensland and the Brisbane Racing Club will test the waters with six Thursday twilight meetings at Doomben in January and February next year.

They will be in a 2:30pm to 6:30pm timezone because, of course, the light fades after that point.

Significantly, these test case meetings are not added to the weekly thoroughbred schedule.

The regular north Queensland Thursday cards will revert to Wednesday for this six week period.

It’s worth posing the question is there a long-game to this experiment?

Does RQ and the BRC consider Thursday twilights, racing alongside Pakenham, could achieve a better revenue return than Wednesday daytime?

I’ll bet “London to a brick on” it’s been a talking point on the agenda.

Aside from the potentials of turnover and popularity, other issues can’t be ignored.

Will the spectre of more twilight and night meetings be a boon or a burr in the saddle of the respective club’s commercial models?

And what will be the position of the licencees who put the show on?

It can be argued their appetite for later meetings after early trackwork starts hasn’t been voracious so far.

And what will the impact of thoroughbred intrusion be on the traditional time zones of harness and greyhound meetings?

This evolving change of culture in terms of when south-east Queensland thoroughbred racing is staged isn’t years away.

It’s sitting at our doorstep.

Today’s column is not designed to argue for or against it. It merely highlights the whole shooting match creates more questions than answers.

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David Fowler
David Fowler
Aquis Park at the Gold Coast is odds-on to be lit up by early 2021 and Doomben is a strong tip to follow suit.

Photos: Graham Potter
Aquis Park at the Gold Coast is odds-on to be lit up by early 2021 and Doomben is a strong tip to follow suit.

Photos: Graham Potter
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