Trainers have questioned the suitability of the Gold Coast to host Saturday’s Recognition Stakes meeting, saying the popular track should be protected ahead of the Magic Millions carnival in January.
Tattersalls Racing Club, who hosts the meeting, elected to move it to the Gold Coast from Doomben this year following a falling out with the Brisbane Racing Club.
However, the surface has come under fire recently following a significant period of racing on rain affected ground over the spring.
Further magnifying issues is the ongoing work around the track due to the implementation of an inner cushion track, which is expected to be finished next month.
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The work, however, has significantly impacted field sizes and limits, with only 10 horses permitted to start from the 1700m and 1100m positions, while 12 can start from other chutes.
It has left a number of emergencies sweating on a run.
Leading trainer Tony Gollan said he is a supporter of racing on the Gold Coast, but called for strong leadership from Racing Queensland around the issue.
“Unfortunately it falls back on a lack of leadership by Racing Queensland not to foresee this,” Gollan said.
“I enjoy racing on the Gold Coast and I will continue to send horses there but I just don’t think we needed this pressure because it will cope enough going into the big day.
“I think it is a bit unfair to run such a critical meeting for our summer carnival on a track that is clearly struggling due to the ongoing works.
“I am looking forward to the Magic Millions and the Gold Coast is Magic Millions, so I have no issue there, but I feel at the moment to run this metropolitan meeting with restricted field sizes on a track that is struggling is putting the club under enormous pressure.”
The Gold Coast track will be redeveloped after the Magic Millions. Picture: Nigel Hallett
Track guru Navesh Ramdhani has been entrusted to oversee the redevelopment at the Gold Coast, which will see the turf track ripped up following the Magic Millions and Gollan believes the surface should be raced on sparingly in the lead up to the feature event.
“I feel like we could have avoided this, we could have let Navesh and the team have their plan for the Magic Millions week,” he said.
“I don’t think they needed this meeting, there are huge field sizes that had to be restricted due to the nature of what is going on with the inside track … I just don’t think it’s up to metropolitan racing at this point in time.”
The Australian Trainers’ Association said southeast Queensland’s shortage of metropolitan standard tracks will be highlighted again once the Gold Coast is taken out of action next year.
“The ATA has been bringing up the issue for the last five years that SEQ is at least one quality grass track short of what’s needed here,” Queensland representative Cameron Partington said.
“This was highlighted while Eagle Farm had its concerns that then put added pressure on to our other metro track options being Doomben, Gold Coast, Sunshine Coast and Ipswich.
“This years unprecedented rainfall no doubt contributed hugely to the concerns at our tracks. The Gold Coast has been a stalwart of Queensland racing and it’s unfortunate the track hasn’t had the opportunity of any reprieve at a time when it was most needed.”