Queensland’s horseracing calendar is covered with red crosses due to wet weather and it is costing the industry hundreds of thousands of dollars.
- 22 country race meets have been cancelled across Queensland due to wet weather, with 10 unable to be rescheduled
- $140,000 in prize money is unable to be won
- A Roma horse trainer says its been an out of character year for the industry
Twenty-two non-TAB race meets were scrapped between January 1 and July 30.
Two more country meets; Talwood and Cunnamulla, have been cancelled this month due to wet weather.
Regional turf clubs say it has had a heavy impact, with some cancelling their only social events of the year.
This weekend, Roma Turf Club will host extra races for horses that have been unable to compete.
But it means some competitors must travel more than 500 kilometres for the last-minute detour.
Roma horse trainer Craig Smith said the wet weather had been exceptional.
“I’ve been here 34 years and it seems to be every 10 years or so we get this sort of season,” he said.
“Most [regional tracks] are dirt. It doesn’t give them enough time for them to dry out.
“It’s an ongoing thing at the moment.”
Mr Smith said many horses from remote areas had pulled out of competing at all this month due to the extra travel or different track conditions.
“It takes a bit of doing,” he said.
“Racing Queensland are trying their best, putting on the extra money and extra races for us.
“But it’s one of those things we’ll have to battle on with it and do the best we can.”
Prize money lost with the wet
Racing Queensland chief executive Brendan Parnell said most cancelled meets have had their races moved to other venues.
“It’s been an unusually wet period,” Mr Parnell said.
Racing Queensland allocated $5.7 million in prize money to non-TAB events this season.
But $140,000 was unable to be paid out.
“Prize money is a bit like a salary for people working in the industry,” Mr Parnell said.
Despite the wet weather, 12 race meets were rescheduled to another day, saving a large portion of prize money payouts.
“If we weren’t able to move as many races as what we did, we would have lost close to a million dollars in prize money,” Mr Parnell said.
“That $140,000 will now get reinvested in country races across the state.”
In addition to the prize money, Mr Parnell said about $5 million had been given to subsidise travel and other costs incurred from country races needing to reschedule.
“It’s also to support our owners because cost of fuel and feed has gone up too,” he said.
“[The] majority of [wet weather] costs have been felt on a club level.”
A blow for social calendars
Talwood racing president Col Mitchell said its cancellation was not only a loss for the club but for locals in town.
“We only have one meet a year. It’s the loss of the social aspect of it,” he said.
“We had 15 [millimetres] of rain the week before, then 16 [millimetres] the day of.”
Mr Mitchell said it was not only Racing Queensland’s calendar that was tight to reschedule but Talwood itself.
“We can’t race in May because we’re planting. October we’re harvesting and we’re also in a cotton region, so you’ve got planting at the start of October, then picking coming into April,” he said.
“We’ll just cancel now and plan for next year.”
Other turf clubs are hopeful they can salvage their meets.
Cunnamulla & District Diggers’ Race Club had its August races cancelled for the second time in a row due to wet weather.
Secretary Liz Land said she was hoping for a raincheck.
“It took so much coordination to move from a Saturday to Sunday the first time. Now we’re looking for another date altogether,” Ms Land said.
“We already have the trophies. So that means we’re either going to have to find a use for them or use the same 30 to 32 sponsors next year.”
Ms Land said the sting of cancellation was less about the revenue and more about keeping racing in western Queensland.
“We’re providing a service,” she said.