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Quarter horse racing dollars a boon

ECONOMIC SPIN-OFFS: AQHRD executive Allan Murnane at Bollier Park this week, where $60 million will be spent developing the race track and facility over the next two years.
ECONOMIC SPIN-OFFS: AQHRD executive Allan Murnane at Bollier Park this week, where $60 million will be spent developing the race track and facility over the next two years. Craig Warhurst

THE company behind the Mary Valley's $60 million quarter horse racing development says that far from being a threat to thoroughbred racing in Gympie it will enhance the region's reputation and popularity as a horse racing destination.

Australian Quarter Horse Racing Development Pty Ltd project manager, Goomeri-raised John Cotter, said this week the district's pony clubs and horse community would be invited to make use of the Bollier Park facilities which are expected to be open for business in two years.

The financial implications are exciting, with AQHRD estimating that every dollar it invests here will create an economic benefit of $2.50.

Fodder producers, horse trainers, jockeys, farriers and veterinarians will not be the only ones to gain.

A "local content policy" on the construction of the facilities means local residents will be given priority when it comes to jobs and contracts.

A partnership with (most likely) the Sunshine Coast University for research into breeding programs, vet care and artificial insemination could attract more government dollars into the region's education facilities, and there will be retail and commercial developments.

"We want to essentially build the Bunnings of horse care," Mr Cotter said.

"There is not really one place where Queenslanders can go that is everything horse.

"This is not just an agricultural economic venture; this is tourism."

AQHRD will be selling "vision" of the Valley races to Latin America, the United States and Asia.

The big appeal of quarter horses is not just their speed, but their affordability, Mr Cotter said.

"In America there are over six million quarter horses registered and the vast majority are owned by people on incomes of less than $50,000 a year."

It's a sport loved by working families.

"Our big challenge is to get the people from Brisbane to strap on their gooseneck and drive up to the Mary Valley," Mr Cotter said.

Those anticipated visitor numbers will have flow-on effects for the region's saddleries, restaurants, retail sector and services.

Topics:  mary valley quarter horse development racing

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