From all accounts, Bendigo is a pleasant enough place. A gold rush town in country Victoria.
I’ve never been there, but I’m guessing there are no great delays at traffic lights. Population is a tick over 100,000.
Today, plenty of those locals will head to the races. A stand alone Saturday meeting if you don’t mind. Good luck to them.
A few thousand kilometres to the north, they’ll be racing too. At Brisbane’s majestic Eagle Farm. Queensland’s premier racetrack. Headquarters for an industry that’s one of the state’s biggest employers.
Two race meetings. One, at a regional track in a country town. The other, in the nation’s third largest city.
Your question this morning dear reader, is this. Which of the two is offering the most prize money?
On the surface, the answer should be simple. Logic would dictate that it would be the meeting in a city of a few million people, featuring some of the country’s most talented jockeys and most successful trainers.
Wrong. Sadly, when it comes to prize money in Queensland, logic runs a distance last, under the whip a long way from home.
Yes, the good folk of Bendigo leave Brisbane in the shade today. What an embarrassment.
If you’re an owner trying to make a quid with your horse at Eagle Farm, the best you can do is a $50,000 dollar race. Four events on the card are worth $45,000 dollars, where the winner will pick up a bit under 29 grand.
Down Bendigo way, on their big day, there’s a feature race worth $125,000 dollars. Two big races worth $90,000, and another worth $75,000.
The rest of the card, another five races, are all worth $50,000 dollars.
Not convinced something stinks in the River City? Let’s board the red-eye to Perth, to compare figures with our Western cousins.
At Ascot today, they’ll be competing in a few early races worth a lazy $45,000 bucks. After that, they’re counting the cash. Five races, all worth $80,000 dollars. Yep, in Perth.
I won’t even mention Sydney. Fair enough, they have Group One racing today. But take a look any other weekend in the Harbour City and Melbourne. If you’re involved in the industry in Brisbane, it makes for grim reading.
The crazy thing is, everyone seems to agree. Anyone who sets foot on course, or who has a flutter in the TAB, knows it’s the biggest issue facing the industry.
Trainers are now eyeing off southern stables. Owners are doing their sums, and accepting that they may have to take their beloved horses elsewhere.
Costs are skyrocketing, but the cash in the winners lounge isn’t keeping up. The industry is tough enough as it is. They can’t run around for the fun of it.
So who do we blame? Who is dragging the chain here?
Brisbane Racing Club is in an impossible position. The club has done plenty to improve the racing experience at Eagle Farm and Doomben. But the state’s controlling body, Racing Queensland, has stripped thousands from the budget.
With subsidies reduced by so much, prize money can’t be increased. Help is badly needed.
The big bosses will scoff, and dismiss such criticism, as they always do whenever someone dares to examine the problem.
Here in Queensland, we’re in the 66th week of an election campaign. Or so it seems. Everyone else has their hand out in the lead up to the poll. We can only hope those running the industry we love are doing the same.
Good luck if you have one running today. Unless you’re in Bendigo. You don’t need luck. You’ve already had a win there, and they haven’t even left the gates.