27 March, 2020
Racing Rules Change by the Day
THE DAY-TO-DAY changes to racing as we know it in Australia continue to roll out of the racing industry as Queensland underwent sweeping changes with the announcement last Thursday that ‘zone racing’ would be introduced.
The Central Highlands will now be known as District Five Central West in an effort to further quarantine the industry from the current COVID-19 pandemic.
Queensland will be divided into five key thoroughbred regions incorporating eight zones restricted to 15 venues (racetracks).
The Central West Zone racing will be staged at Emerald, with the possibility of a second venue being added to the zone to relieve the pressure on the Pioneer Park turf track.
District Five will be restricted to trainers in the Central West and the Central Highlands, with only horses trained in the designated zones permitted to race in zones five, and such is the case for the trainers.
Jockeys will be permitted to ride in District Five and also District Six. Mackay and Rockhampton jockeys must pledge their allegiances to their respective zones, and are only permitted to ride in their chosen zones.
Owners and racing fans will have the opportunity to have a bet in isolation on Easter Saturday in Emerald.
All racing at Pioneer Park is being run as TAB meetings during the Covid-19 crisis, and will be televised on Sky Channel. Participants will receive a prize money increase from the standard $7,450 to $10,000.
The Pioneer Park meeting will carry $78,000 in prize money, to be distributed to Central West and Central Highlands trainers.
Racing Queensland’s Brendan Parnell said everything was being done to protect the livelihood of the 40,000 Queenslanders who participate across the state.
“By introducing the regional racing model, we are able to further support the Queensland Government’s direction to stay local, reduce non-essential travel and to limit spread the insidious virus.
At Tuesday’s Mackay TAB meeting, leading Central Highlands jockey, Elyce Smith, combined with her Rockhampton-based brother, Thomas, to take-out the rich $31,500 QTIS Maiden with Ask Me Tomorrow ($2.20); it is raced by Colin Bell, a member of the Central Highlands Bell Racing dynasty.
Tom Smith only has to live-up to half of his name sake, the great Tommy (TJ) Smith to be a success.
Elyce and Tom Smith are the next generation of racing in central Queensland, and Tom would arguably be the youngest licenced trainer in Australia.