Doomben will again host the running of Queensland’s premier race, the Group 1 $1.5m Stradbroke Handicap, during the 2018 Queensland Winter Carnival in June.
Eagle Farm is the spiritual home of the 1400m Stradbroke Handicap, which is the corner stone of the Winter Carnival, but the prestige sprint has been run at Doomben twice in the three years over 1350m because of the controversial redevelopment of the Eagle Farm course proper.
The 2015 Stradbroke Handicap was run at Doomben over 1350m with the Ciaron Maher trained Srikandi claiming the winning trophy while Eagle Farm’s new racing surface was under construction.
Eagle Farm was deemed ready to host the 2016 running with Under The Louvre beating Black Heart Bart by nose but the surface came under fire again and remedial work was carried out unsuccessfully which forced most of this year’s Winter Carnival Group 1 races, including the Stradbroke Handicap, to be shifted to Doomben again.
The Darren Beadman trained three year old Impending became the second horse to win the Stradbroke Handicap over the shorter distance of 1350m at Doomben in 2017.
Work on another track upgrade has been slow to begin and the Brisbane Racing Club have released a statement saying that the 2018 Winter Carnival Group 1 racing will again be held at Doomben.
“The decision to call it now provides certainty for all participants planning carnival campaigns in the first half of next year and to ensure we give the Eagle Farm track every opportunity to perform to the highest of standards which our stakeholders, members, patrons and punters deserve,” BRC Chairman Neville Bell said.
“The BRC is part of the Project Control Group for this redevelopment of the Eagle Farm track. At every step, we have said that this track must be rebuilt very carefully to ensure we have an outstanding surface.”
Racing Queensland Chief Executive Officer Dr Eliot Forbes said that the turf is ready to be laid in December and added that the delays had been because of some untimely wet days.
“We are on schedule to begin laying turf in December despite delays associated with adverse weather, challenges sourcing the necessary high-quality materials and securing the availability of contractors to undertake the remediation process,” Dr Elliot Forbes said.
Premiership winning trainer Robert Heathcote, who trains out of the new Eagle Farm infield stabling complex, questioned Forbes’ explanation for the delay.
“How can they possibly blame the weather, adverse weather for the past seven months, they are kidding themselves and deceiving everyone along the way,” Heathcote told The Courier-Mail.
Details of the revamped 2018 Queensland Winter Carnival will be realised in the near future.