Maryborough track awakens
REGULAR trotting meetings are set to return to the Maryborough complex after one of the finest tracks in regional Australia has been sitting idle for more than 20 years.
The progressive Wide Bay Harness Club has had its first Sunday program approved for January 10 by the Queensland Trotting Control Board.
Club president Bob McCrae, of Childers, said the program would comprise seven events with full fields of eight pacers in each race while prize money had already been guaranteed for the meeting.
Pacers will come from the strong Leigh Wanless stables and training track at Maryborough, while owners and trainers who race their equines at Redcliffe and Albion Park will attend the meeting.
Also starters will hail from the South Burnett Hay and Reinke stables with additional support from Toowoomba trainers.
Spectator interest is expected to flourish due to the continuing surge of population in the region. New owner-drivers from Bundaberg south are expected to become part of an industry which is essentially family orientated.
The meeting at Toowoomba showground last Friday night was indicative of the regional interest when some 96 entries were received and a crowd of 2000 enjoyed the excitement and glamour.
McCrae said the Maryborough track remained in perfect condition and would only need a slight grading to make it a super surface for regular pacing.
The original complex was sanctioned by former Racing Minister Russ Hinze for trotting events on a Saturday afternoon to coincide with southern gallop meetings until it was found that support through the turnstiles made it difficult to sanction the necessary prize money.
Since then, population in Hervey Bay, Bundaberg, Maryborough, Gympie and Tewantin-Noosa on the southern tip of the region has grown by more 500 per cent with a combined population now more than 300,000.
McCrae said the track with two long straights and sweeping turns was only a few metres short of the new complex at Melton in Victoria which will takeover Friday night programs from the Moonie Valley circuit.
The showground complex at Maryborough now under the control of the Fraser Coast Regional Council has all amenities from grandstand to some 80 stables, eating and drinking facilities, spacious parking areas, large pavilion and secretary’s office.
Revitalised interest in trotting on the circuit was shown with events during the 2009 annual show.
Away from the track, the total area has facilities for equestrian events, pony club activities, campdrafts and rodeos plus various forms of entertainment.
Bookmakers will field on the January trotting program together with the thoroughbred racing at Caloundra and feature race meetings in the southern States.
The harness club would like to join the national scene with TAB and Sky Channel coverage.
McCrae said at the present time, the only drawback to not presenting a case to the relevant authorities was the need for sponsorship.
Tingoora (South Burnett) trotting enthusiast Keith Kratzmann — the club’s marketing and public relations officer — said everything was in place to compete with the best regional centres in Australia, particularly with ever-increasing population.
He said, if the TAB and Sky Channel wanted to incorporate Wide Bay with trotting events from New Zealand by starting mid-morning, then that would not present a problem.
Because of its proximity to the metropolitan area, the Wide Bay complex would also be a training ground where horses showing excellent talent could then graduate to Redcliffe and Albion Park meetings.