Racing in Brisbane has come under heavy fire over the last day or so with reduced race programs and a lack of acceptors adding to the ongoing battle over prize money.
Today though there’s been a positive twist from the BRC with the announcement of what they’re calling the ‘Australasian Challenge’.
It’s a big idea to try and attract the top performers from Australia and New Zealand to Brisbane’s biggest day of racing.
Kevin Dixon from the Brisbane Racing Club is hoping to create the ‘ultimate showdown’.
“The 2012 Brisbane Racing Carnival will be the home of the Australasian Challenge, the ultimate showdown for the best horses in the country at the end of the racing year,” he said.
“What we are going to do is invite the winners of key lead up races of the Queensland Oaks and Stradbroke Handicap to come to Brisbane and to compete against each other for the best of the best.”
To clarify there will be no new race created, simply ballot exemptions handed out to selected race winners to try and entice them to the majors already in operation.
That being said there are plenty of extras being thrown into the mix as well with no only guaranteed race entry but also all entry costs and travel expenses paid for.
Effectively the BRC are offering those that gain ballot exemption a free shot at Brisbane winter carnival honours.
For the Stradbroke Handicap the following races will earn an invitation:
- Newmarket Handicap (Victoria)
- TJ Smith Stakes (New South Wales)
- Winterbottom Stakes (Western Australia)
- Goodwood Handicap (South Australia)
- Telegraph Handicap (New Zealand)
For the Queensland Oaks the following races will earn an invitation:
- VRC Oaks (Victoria)
- AJC Oaks (New South Wales)
- WA Oaks (Western Australia)
- Australasian Oaks (South Australia)
- NZ Oaks (New Zealand)
Dixon says being able to give trainers a sense of certainty is a massive incentive as they work out their campaigns.
“As trainer look towards setting programs for their horses for the next six months they need to balance up what costs there will be and what the entry requirements are,” he said.
“What we’re saying to trainers is that we’re taking the risk out of coming to Brisbane.
“Costs will be paid and you know you’ll get a start in the race… that allows them to plan with some confidence.”
As a further incentive to trainers BMW are also offering a shot at a car worth $100,000.
If a trainer can feature somewhere in the first four spots of both the Doomben 10,000 and the Stradbroke Handicap with any combination of horses they’ll get to select from 50 keys, one of which can drive them home in style.
While the scheme is a fantastic drawcard for the BRC and the Brisbane winter carnival, expect at least a little bit of resistance from those still battling for an increase in prizemoney for local races.