The 2012 Brisbane Winter Racing Carnival is shaping up to be the biggest and best celebration of Queensland racing in history thanks to a unique initiative announced by the Brisbane Racing Club (BRC) on Wednesday.
In an attempt to attract the premier racehorses from all over Australia and New Zealand, Brisbane will this year be home to the “Australasian Challenge”, the ultimate showdown between the best of the best at the end of the racing year in winter.
“Our vision was to create the ultimate showdown of Australasia’s racing champions here in Brisbane, setting a new benchmark in Australian racing which champions our local industry,” BRC Chairman Kevin Dixon said.
The new arrangement will see an extra race added to the Brisbane Winter Racing Carnival program with an invite extended to the winners of two key lead-up races, the $400,000 Group 1 Queensland Oaks (2400m) at Eagle Farm on June 2, and the $1 million Group 1 Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) on June 9, to come to Brisbane and face off for the ultimate title.
The Stradbroke Handicap 2012 is set to be the most exciting ever edition of Queensland’s richest race as the BRC will invite the winners of a number of pre-decided races to come to Brisbane and take their spot in the Stradbroke Handicap field free of charge.
That is, the winning horses of these races will not only be automatically exempt from ballot from the iconic Stradbroke Handicap, but will also have all of their travel costs paid for as well as their nomination and acceptance fees covered by Queensland Racing.
The first of the races offering this unique Stradbroke Handicap invite was the $500,000 Group 1 Winterbottom Stakes (1200m) in WA, which has already been run and won for this racing year.
Brisbane Racing, as such, are currently drawing up an invitation for Winterbottom Stakes winner Ortensia, the now Paul Messara-trained mare having made a number of earlier appearances in Brisbane when prepared by Tony Noonan.
Ortensia raced in both the 2009 and 2010 Brisbane Winter Racing Carnivals, including both editions of the Stradbroke.
After taking out the Group 2 QTC Cup (1300m) in May 2009 she went on to finish a brave third from a horror barrier (16 of 20) in that year’s Stradbroke to winner Black Piranha.
In 2010 her result was not quite as good when 16th to successful defending champ Black Piranha.
The other races that are part of this special Stradbroke Handicap invitation are the:
- $1 million Group 1 Newmarket Handicap (1200m) – Flemington, March 10
- $1 million Group 1 TJ Smith Stakes (1200m) – Randwick, April 14
- $350,000 Group 1 The Goodwood (1200m) – Morphettville, May 12
- NZ Group 1 Telegraph Handicap (1200m) – Trentham, January 21
The Telegraph Handicap 2012 runs this Saturday and Atomic Force will represent the Aussies from their ideal barrier four draw, the Darren Smith-trained Sydney raider having won the Group 1 Railway Stakes (1200m) at Ellerslie last-start on January 1.
There will be a similar invitation-to-the-winners system for the 2012 Queensland Oaks as well.
The race is the last chance for three-year-old fillies to add to their resumes for the year, and the BRC will extend the same expense-free invitations to the winners of the:
- $1 million Group 1 VRC Crown Oaks (2500m) – Won by Mosheen at Flemington on November 3
- $250,000 Group 3 WA Oaks (2400m) – Ascot, March 31
- $550,000 ATC Oaks (2400m) – Randwick, April 21
- NZ Oaks (2400m) – March 17
“We’ve taken the risk out of coming to Brisbane (for trainers),” Dixon said.
“You know your costs will be paid and you know you’re going to start in a race.
“It allows the best of the best to meet each other here in Brisbane and allows our local trainers to take on the best and I know they look forward to that challenge with some excitement.
“We anticipate this initiate, along with the wonderful Brisbane Racing Carnival atmosphere and mild Queensland winter weather, will entice the connections of Australasia’s best sprinters and staying fillies to take on the best in their league in either the Treasury Casino Queensland Oaks or the AAMI Stradbroke.
“The greatest races always involve great horses.
“For example, under this initiative, world-class champion mare Black Caviar would have been invited to race in the 2011 AAMI Stradbroke field alongside Australasia’s other top champions such as King Mufhasa.
“We look forward to thee two races being the highlights of the Brisbane Racing Carnival in 2012.”
Another incentive for trainers to come to Brisbane, even if they haven’t won one of the lead-up races, is the BRC offering every trainer of a horse placed first to fourth in both the $650,000 Group 1 Doomben 10,000 (1350m) on May 26 and the Stradbroke Handicap the chance to pick a key from 50 keys, which could start starts a $100,000 BMW 5 Series Sedan.
Stay tuned to Races.com.au over the coming months for all the latest Brisbane Winter Racing Carnival updates.
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