Eagle Farm Meets Benchmarks After First Year

Wednesday, 29 January 2020

Eagle Farm has met all benchmarks after its first full year of racing as the track prepares to host four consecutive Saturday meetings in February.

The Brisbane Racing Club said Eagle Farm was achieving the goals set in the Monteith Report, which was released ahead of the renovation of the track in 2018. The Monteith Report was written by former Victoria Racing Club Chief Executive Dale Monteith, who outlined recommendations for the maintenance of the track across several years.

The performance of Eagle Farm on Saturday 18 January 2020 underlined the progress of the track, which returned to racing 13 months earlier. Eagle Farm withstood 65mm of rain overnight on Friday – bringing the weekly total to 140mm – to race with a Good 4 rating. A downpour after Race 7 resulted in a Soft 5 rating for the last two races, which enabled competitive times to be run.

The Monteith Report recommended no more than 25 meetings be held at Eagle Farm in its first year, increasing for the next two years. The report also recommended annual renovation time and avoiding instances of three meetings in fewer than two weeks. Eagle Farm hosted 25 meetings in the first year.

“Based on what we’re seeing at Eagle Farm and, speaking with the experts who are working with the track, Eagle Farm is performing to the expectations that we set before the track was rebuilt,” Dale Monteith said.

“I’m happy with how the track has performed. Not many tracks in Australia would have reached a Good 4 rating after the rainfall in the days prior to the (January 18) meeting. The track doesn’t divot which is a sign of a well-constructed and a well-maintained track.”

Eagle Farm trainer Rob Heathcote was among those to comment on the track during the January 18 meeting: “There was nearly three inches of rain and that track is playing fantastic,” Heathcote told Sky Racing. “It’s a day where there are a few race meetings called off around the country and here we are running 57 and 58 seconds over 1000m.”

The Brisbane Racing Club has applied to Racing Queensland for 80 race meetings – including 45 Saturday meetings – in the 2020-21 schedule, which is yet to be finalised. The BRC’s application includes 35 meetings at Eagle Farm, including 30 Saturdays, and 45 meetings at Doomben including 15 Saturdays. The application includes the Tattersall’s Club schedule.

The BRC’s application includes time for spring renovations for both tracks and a rest of three weeks for each track prior to its Brisbane Racing Carnival dates. If these dates are confirmed, racing in Brisbane would return to its highest level since the original Eagle Farm renovation was announced in 2013-14.

“We have ensured that the recommendations of the Monteith Report have been followed and Eagle Farm is at a point where it can handle more racing as per the report’s recommendations,” BRC Chairman Neville Bell said.

“The renovation of Eagle Farm included a major investment from Racing Queensland’s Racing Infrastructure Fund and it’s good to see that the investment is paying off for the industry. The performance of Eagle Farm is critical to wagering revenue in Queensland.”

The BRC has revealed that its monthly water bills for November and December totalled $109,000 after a dry period meant that Doomben had to be irrigated with town water. Racing Queensland met half of the cost of the watering of the Doomben tracks.  

“The BRC works hard to ensure that Eagle Farm and Doomben can race as well as possible and that includes ensuring the tracks have everything they need to perform well,” Mr Bell said. “We’re grateful for Racing Queensland agreeing to assist with the costs over that period. Fortunately, rainfall in late December ensured that the Doomben dams have re-filled and that Eagle Farm did not have to be irrigated with town water.”

One of the many pleasing statistics since the return to racing at Eagle Farm in December 2018 has been the tally of winning barriers from various starting points. In the 55 races held over 1400m, 50.3 per cent of the winners have come from the outside half of the barrier draw. This underlines the fairness of the Eagle Farm track for all competitors.

Doomben continues to race well and it was pleasing that the track would have been able to race on January 18 if the meeting was allocated there. The BRC staff inspected Doomben that morning to determine how the track handled the rainfall.