The 2021 Queensland winter racing carnival will offer bold new levels of bang for its buck, in a bonanza for the state’s racing industry after much of last year’s carnival was wiped out due to the COVID pandemic.
The Courier-Mail can reveal this year’s winter carnival has received a prizemoney boost to $20.5million – a $2million increase from the winter carnival two years ago.
Last year, Racing Queensland all but cancelled the winter carnival with only two Group 1s left standing (the Stradbroke Handicap and the JJ Atkins) and they were run for greatly reduced prizemoney.
But pre-COVID winter prizemoney levels have been restored for this year, plus an extra $2million.
Eight Group 1 races and 53 black-type events will be run in winter, with $5million Stradbroke Handicap day on June 12 the highlight.
Three races of $1million or more will be run on the day with the time-honoured Stradbroke worth $1.5million, the first running of the $1.2million Group 2 Sky Racing Q22 and the $1million Group 1 JJ Atkins for two-year-olds.
The Group 1 Doomben 10,000 on May 15 has received a $200,000 boost to become a $1million race and the Group 2 BRC Sires Produce is also now a $1million race after receiving a huge $600,000 prizemoney bump.
The Group 1 Queensland Oaks and Tattersall’s Tiara also receive a prizemoney boost to $600,000 each.
The one big headache going into the winter carnival is the controversial Eagle Farm track and all eyes will be on it as it stages three consecutive Group 1 Saturdays during the winter carnival.
Racing Queensland chairman Steve Wilson said the prizemoney boosts and other enhancements were designed to “turbo-charge’ this year’s carnival.
“Major events like our iconic Winter Racing Carnival are critical to growing tourism and events in Queensland and this year’s program is expected to do just that,” he said.
“Following limited feature racing in 2020, we’re looking forward to turbo-charging this year’s Winter Carnival and extending Queensland’s renowned hospitality to locals and visitors alike.”
After announcing a number of Winter Carnival enhancements last year before COVID-19 intervened, the Sky Racing Q22 will be run for the first time, serving as an end-of-season, weight-for-age finale for middle-distance horses.
Adding to the build-up to the Q22, the Brisbane Racing Club will stage six “win and you’re in” races – the Queensland Guineas, Doomben Cup, Queensland Derby, Lord Mayor’s Cup, Queensland Sapphire Stakes and the Queensland Oaks – as a gateway through to the Group 2 feature on June 12.
Further Winter Carnival innovations includes an enhanced fillies and mares program featuring three new races: the Group 3 Pam O’Neill on May 22 at Doomben, the Tattersall’s Gold Crown on June 26, and the Queensland Sapphire Stakes (June 5), timed to coincide with the Magic Millions National Sales in early June.
Originally published asWinter windfall: Queensland carnival gets prizemoney boost
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