THE highlights of a revamped Racing Queensland thoroughbred calendar for the 2016/17 season, which was released yesterday, include a series of day/night 12 race card meetings at the Sunshine Coast Turf Club and the re-introduction of Tuesday racing.
RQ Racing Operations Manager Ross Gove said the need to increase wagering revenue through innovation and the re-opening of Eagle Farm had lead to some changes to the calendar and thought processes behind it.
He said RQ had consulted heavily with all key stakeholders, including betting partners, race clubs and Sky Channel, the main broadcaster for racing in Queensland.
“Although the emphasis has been placed on driving wagering, the need to provide greater returns to stakeholders through increased racing opportunities remains paramount,” Gove said.
“Through the consultation process we have been able to accommodate the special needs of clubs and at the same time maintain a balance in the racing program that allows horses to compete in vital lead up races particularly around feature events.
“Whilst the return to what were previously successful patterns of racing was considered vital particularly given Eagle Farm’s return, so to was the need to explore other potential wagering opportunities such as the day/night meetings at Sunshine Coast Turf Club.”
The main factor taken into consideration by RQ when scheduling the thoroughbred calendar was maximizing returns through wagering. This means factors like placement of meetings, looking at the start and finish times of all meetings, innovating through twilight and night time meetings, maximizing broadcast opportunities and converting non-TAB meetings to TAB meetings so they provide a monetary return to the industry.
There will be 13 more TAB meetings held in Queensland in 2016/17, the number up to 443 in total, while 277 non-TAB meetings will be held, remaining consistent with the current season.
RQ has also successfully negotiated 19 more meetings to be upgraded from Sky 2 to Sky 1 broadcast status, which gives them far greater exposure in pubs, clubs and homes across Australia.
“The reintroduction of Tuesday racing was also considered important in helping to generate turnover, whilst also reducing the significant burden placed on stakeholders through the running of back-to-back race meetings in the northern region,” Gove said.
“At the same time this will significantly reduce the broadcast costs associated with those consecutive meetings which were prevalent throughout the 2015/16 calendar.
“The retention of the same number of standard country race meetings is seen as a positive outcome, particularly given that some meetings in the calendar which were previously run at Non-TAB level were upgraded to TAB status. The latter not only ensures there will be additional financial returns to the industry though wagering, but it will also provide increased prizemoney opportunities for stakeholders.”
To complement the calendar’s release, the Group and Feature Race Schedule has been retained in a very similar format, although as is always the case the Winter Racing Carnival will be subject to review following the completion of the 2016 carnival.
RQ also released the harness and greyhound racing schedule for 2016/17, with the number of meetings remaining reasonably steady, despite several factors including live baiting hitting the industry hard.