'Biggest ever' Melbourne Cup day on cards at Murwillumbah
AS Queensland racing grinds to a stand-still the Tweed River Jockey Club's whips are cracking with a proposal to transform its Melbourne Cup day meet into a TAB event.
A Monday deadline has been set for Racing NSW to decide whether or not the club can upgrade its five-race Cup day program at Murwillumbah to an eight-race TAB meet sure to attract disgruntled Queensland-based trainers set to boycott Melbourne Cup day meets in the Sunshine State.
Recent race meetings in Queensland have been effectively abandoned as an aggrieved alliance of trainers, jockeys, owners and breeders rally against the Queensland state government's Point of Consumption (POC) tax.
And with bookmakers estimating $100 million losses in betting turnover if TAB racing doesn't go ahead in Queensland, odds are the TRJC's proposal will be embraced.
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Tweed River Jockey Club chairman Bernie Quinn said the club is pressing hard to host the TAB event, which would turn Cup day into the "biggest ever" in Murwillumbah, and provide a haven for Queensland trainers threatening strike action.
"The TRJC and Racing NSW are in discussions, but it won't be until most likely Monday that we hear back," Mr Quinn said.
"Gold Coast Turf Club isn't racing. Brisbane isn't racing. There seems to be no racing around. The closest track to Brisbane is Murwillumbah.
"Trainers from NSW and virtually everyone in Queensland would be wanting to race their horses at Murwillumbah," Quinn said.
Mr Quinn believes the Murwillumbah racetrack is perfectly placed to provide an alternative for Queensland trainers.
"Because we are on the border it's a fantastic opportunity," he said.
"Trainers are trying to work out where to go with their horses...a few trainers are starting to realise that there is a possibility that Murwillumbah might be permitted to run a TAB meeting."
A typical Melbourne Cup day meet would see around four and half thousand spectators flock to the Murwillumbah racetrack. But with a TAB event, thousands more would be likely to attend.
Prizemoney would also be boosted, with winner's money to increase from approximately $6,000 per race to $22,000.
In the meantime, Mr Quinn said "everything is shaping up beautifully" for Cup day on Tuesday, November 6.
"We are basically booked out with all our tables upstairs, but we still have a couple of marquees left available for people if they'd like to get into contact with the club and book," Mr Quinn said.