Finally the campaign is over. Your expert form guide to the Great Queensland Election race.

March 24, 2012

They’ve been trained to the minute for this day. Coats are shining. These candidates are ready to run.

They’ve been put through their paces morning and night for six weeks. The backroom boys will tell you they’ve done their bit. Nothing has been left to chance.

If you’re north of the border, you couldn’t have missed the lead up to the big event. Every training gallop has been scrutinised time and again.

As you head to the ballot box, ready to have a punt on the finish, feel free to ignore those infuriating party people standing on the fence, thrusting meaningless bits of paper into your hand. All the help you need is right here.

The Hold All Tickets team has been hovering in the shadows, getting the lowdown on the favoured chances. So here it is. Your official guide to the main hopes in the Great Queensland Election race 2012.

1/ Last Chance Anna. Trained by the ALP.

Responsible for a memorable victory at this track before. Hit peak form more than twelve months ago on an extremely heavy Brisbane track. Has suffered numerous setbacks of late. Smart money abandoned the stable weeks ago, which is always a bad sign in this class of race. Bookies happy to offer huge odds, and already packing for Pacific cruises. Late betting moves unlikely.

2/ The Cando Man. Trained by the LNP.

Blue blood pedigree for an event like this. Impressive record performing on a neighbouring track in recent years. Stable cleared after being involved in inquiries by stewards relating to betting irregularities. Has been a star performer in traditional lead up events. The only one they want in the betting ring. Into Black Caviar-type odds. Expect female owner to plant big kiss on him at the finish line.

3/ Home Town Kate. Trained by the ALP.

Hand-picked for this race, although doesn’t usually compete in this class. Impressed in early barrier trials, but has struggled of late. Stable has enlisted plenty of support to fine tune for today. Popular local filly, but might find the visitor too nippy.

4/ Mad Katter. Trained by the Katter family.

Distinctive grey who’s a star performer in the bush. Prolific winner of Country Cups. Stable known for betting plunges, usually hit and run missions. Connections very confident, even though City judges have been dismissive. Could be an each-way chance. Track officials warn that trainer’s speech could go till midnight if they spring an upset.

5/ Going Green. Trained by Mother Nature.

Another outsider capable of causing a surprise. Needs plenty of luck from an outside barrier, and only performs on inner-city tracks. Popular with young racegoers. Connections have advised there’ll be group hugs if they snare a placing.

Good luck with your investment. Remember, every ticket counts. They won’t go to these starting gates for another three years.

If your friends are struggling to find a winner, feel free to send our exclusive form guide to them. Just make sure they sign the legal disclaimer on the back.

Finally, look away if the favourite is declared the winner, and the kissing and hugging begins. And if you see a country trainer in a big hat start heading to the microphone, make sure you find a comfy seat. Trust me, it will take a while.

Want decent prizemoney? Take your horse to country Victoria, or Perth. Anywhere but Brisbane.

March 17, 2012

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.