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By David Fowler | Tuesday, February 4, 2020

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 contest over the prized Saturday metropolitan race dates in the 2020-21 racing season is warming up quickly.

The battle lines haven’t been drawn on the spur of the moment, it’s been an issue bubbling along, but there is one clear decision controlling body Racing Queensland will have to make. Will the Gold Coast Turf Club be given the green light to eat into the lion’s share of Saturday dates that the Brisbane Racing Club currently, and rightfully, enjoys.

The BRC is the sole metropolitan club hosting meetings at Eagle Farm and Doomben, identical to the Australian Turf Club in Sydney who has the luxury of the use of four tracks including Royal Randwick, Rosehill Gardens, Warwick Farm and Canterbury.

Understandably buoyed by their Magic Millions experience, QTIS Jewel race day and May carnival date, the Gold Coast Turf Club has made no secret of the fact that more metropolitan Saturday meets should head down the M1.

The BRC sounded a warning shot last week somewhat masked in a positive report on the Eagle Farm makeover after the first 12 months.

The club has made their application for 80 meetings next year including 45 Saturdays and 35 midweeks (includes Wednesdays, Thursdays and public holidays).

The breakdown of the 45 Saturdays would see Eagle Farm host 30 and Doomben 15.

Running true to the Monteith report, Eagle Farm hosted 25 racedates in the past 12 months.

Doomben would shoulder almost the entire load outside of Saturday with 30 dates and Eagle Farm making up the other five.

It’s reasonable to argue the race dates landscape has been somewhat distorted since Eagle Farm’s two makeovers has seen it on and off the roster since 2013. Provincial clubs, principally Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast, were enhanced with Saturday opportunities and obviously liked what they received.

But this was only an interim measure.

There are several key factors that need serious consideration in RQ’s final determination.

Eagle Farm is clearly the most powerful brand for betting turnover.

Eagle Farm has bounced back bigger and bolder than ever in terms of its’ track surface.

Does potential metropolitan meetings at the Gold Coast face hurdles with traffic issues on the M1. The same can be said for Sunshine Coast and the Bruce Highway.

The forecast of lighting at Aquis Park Gold Coast is a goer but would they be ready to be switched on in 2020-21. Unlikely.

I have previously argued commercially the Gold Coast Turf Club would not achieve a hell of a lot more by securing a metropolitan date. They have disagreed with that.

The push to host the principal Saturday meeting outside of city limits is not a phenomenon restricted to this state.

My recent visit to Adelaide clearly indicates there is a push to preen the feathers of the two Morphettville tracks with Murray Bridge and Gawler waiting in the wings.

But the controlling body of any state has to ask itself where to draw the line.

Maybe 2020-21 is too early to get an answer in terms of Queensland.

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