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By David Fowler | Tuesday, October 6, 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.

Proposed lighting at Aquis Park Gold Coast will provoke some soul searching from the Gold Coast Turf Club and Racing Queensland.

The track lighting is part of a $31.5 million package approved by the State Labor Government providing they win the October 31 election.

Also included is an all-weather synthetic track, a new tunnel and refurbishments to the other tracks.

It’s been a long time coming and will enhance Aquis Park Gold Coast’s reputation as a significant racing precinct and training centre.

But it is the lighting that will have the most profound effect on the club from a short term and long term point of view.

Make no mistake, in what racing sphere the lighting is used will shape the club’s identity for many years to come.

Before expanding on that point, it’s worth considering the club’s history and how it has evolved over the decades.

It’s a reasonable assessment the Gold Coast Turf Club has grown in stature parallel to the rise and rise of the Gold Coast city.

A family holiday spot in the late sixties and early seventies was matched by a provincial racetrack in the suburb of Bundall.

In fact, it was generally known as “Southport” in those days.

As the high rises started to dominate the Surfers Paradise landscape, the infrastructure also grew at the track that became “Gold Coast”.

The advent of the Magic Millions in the late eighties was a major turning point for the GCTC and it has never looked back.

It’s commercial association with Aquis a few years ago was another significant step up the ladder.

But despite all of this, from a racing point of view, the Gold Coast Turf Club primarily serves as a Saturday afternoon provincial fixture barring metropolitan status at least four times a year.

These days are the two-day Magic Millions carnival (January), Hollindale Stakes day (May) and the Jewel raceday (March). And they do these impressively.

Yet there has been this persistent desire by the club to procure more metropolitan Saturdays which many cannot fathom.

A bread-and-butter metropolitan Saturday will not ensure a larger crowd and evidence clearly demonstrates punters bet more when the Saturday races are at Eagle Farm and Doomben.

But with the added attraction of lighting, the Gold Coast Turf Club can rise to another level with Friday night racing.

This timeslot in the summer months will be a sure-fire winner.

It consolidates its current membership with a great evening out dining trackside yet can also grow its base to include a younger demographic who can use the race meet as a starting base before heading into Surfers for what the night (and morning ) holds.

Matching up with Moonee Valley on Friday nights seals a great template for punters to bet on that night.

Understandably this exciting role can’t exist for 52 weeks but it can at least for seven months from September to March.

Presently, the Gold Coast seems betwixt and between.

The installation of lighting is a starter’s gun to rising to a more elite level.

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