Racing Veteran Enters Deagon Development Dispute

By: Ryan Clark
September 21st, 2011

The fight for Deagon has a new voice on the battlefront as trainers at the facility plead with racing Queensland to rethink their redevelopment.

The proposal which seems all but certain to become a reality of the next few years will see just under $40 million spent to turn Deagon Racecourse into a specialist trots and greyhounds venue.

There would be no room for the 27 thoroughbred trainers currently based there to remain forcing them either into the city or north to the Sunshine Coast.

Norm Stephens is one of them, he’d end a relationship with Deagon that dates all the way back to 1943.

The now 80 year old first gained a training license at just 12 years old when he began working as an apprentice.

He says if he and others like him are forced away from the northern suburbs facility  racing in Brisbane will die within the decade.

“Racing doesn’t need all this elaborate stuff with grandstands; what it really needs is prize money,” Mr Stephens said.
“The dogs, the trots and us all want some prize money.”

So far Racing Queensland have been unmoved from their original proposal however now seem willing for a small compromise with the inclusion of a training track on the infield.

It would be a tight turning ring though and would only allow trainers to work their horses at slow speeds.

Stephens says he can’t see the need for so much money to be spent on the project when improvements could be made in other areas.

He says there were no great calls from anyone in the industry for the project to happen and it’s only risking the future of all three codes, not just thoroughbred racing.

“I’ve spoken to people (in each racing code) and they are happy where they are,” he said.

“This will just hurt everybody.”

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