Eagle Farm track debate heats up

The Brisbane Race Club has an urgent meeting with racing minister Grace Grace in an effort to overturn a decision to move the Queensland Oaks meeting from Eagle Farm.

It has put the BRC on a head-on collision course with the sport’s governing body, Racing Queensland.

The stand-off has the potential to severely damage finances for both the BRC and RQ with millions of dollars in revenue and betting turnover in the balance.

After originally saying Saturday’s Oaks meeting would go ahead at Eagle Farm, RQ announced on Sunday afternoon it would not be run at the track.

But RQ has yet to announce an alternative venue.

There are major problems with some other tracks unable to handle large crowds, pre-sales and distance changes in transferring the meetings.

RQ made the change after widespread criticism about the state of the Eagle Farm track after Saturday’s Kingsford Smith Cup program.

“The decision, in light of the track performance at Eagle Farm … was made in order to present the best possible surface for Group 1 racing,” an RQ statement said.

“RQ has consulted widely with industry associations and gained feedback from a wide selection of members including the nation’s leading participants.”

RQ said the consensus was that the track was safe but inferior.

After a phone hook-up between directors which lasted several hours on Sunday night the Brisbane Race Club decided to hold firm.

BRC spokesman Michael Crutcher said the club did not agree with moving the meeting and the track was safe for racing.

He said the racing minister had agreed to attend a meeting on Monday and it was hoped RQ would also attend.

“The BRC was surprised by RQ’s decision. After Saturday’s meeting RQ stated the rest of the carnival would be at Eagle Farm” he said.

Crutcher said RQ had not provided further information, most importantly about a new venue.

“Evergreen who took over maintenance of the track in March have assured us it is safe to race,” he said.

Crutcher said betting on the Kingsford Smith Cup meeting had been favourable and maintenance was continuing at Eagle Farm.

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