While punters enjoyed the racing in Moranbah at the weekend, behind the scenes country clubs are still feeling the pinch of tight budgets.
While punters enjoyed the racing in Moranbah at the weekend, behind the scenes country clubs are still feeling the pinch of tight budgets.

Country racing meet rides in

MORANBAH-based horse Testatude kept punters happy, finishing with a half-neck win on his home track in last weekend’s 1400m BMA Cup.

But the $7.50 win with the bookies and $6500 first-place prize money claimed by Testatude’s owners Mr and Mrs Petersen, belied a problem facing a country racing industry literally on its knees.

The ongoing funding battle for country race clubs was ramping up, as the sport’s governing body Racing Queensland continued to neglect non-TAB meets such as Moranbah.

Moranbah Race Club secretary-treasurer Kay Juhas couldn’t praise the strong attendance at the weekend event enough but said the club’s future remained in limbo with little chance to extend beyond the three meets a year already provided by RQL.

“It’s one of the only times the whole family can get together and enjoy themselves,” Kay said.

“We would like to have more meets but at the moment all the money is going to the tracks on the coast.”

She said with continuing coast maintenance costs set to rise in the coming months, the Moranbah club was only just keeping its head above water.

“It’s hard to keep going and keep up with all the associated costs but what else can you do? You have just got keep with it,” she said.

“Before my time, we used to race here once a month and now that’s been cut back to three a year.

“When we lose a race meet, it puts the club under a lot more pressure.”

There has been some reprieve after severe flooding earlier this year left a gaping hole in the budgets of local clubs.

Emerald’s Pioneer Park was boosted by the visit of Racing Queensland chairman Bob Bentley who promised to substantially improve the quality of facilities but other clubs were still out in the cold.

Neighbouring Central Highlands race clubs at Bluff and Dingo also expressed concerns late last year at the lack of funding, with the two relying on just one or two meets a year.

Similarly, Springsure’s St Patrick’s Race Day received little sympathy from the RQL board when its annual meet was washed-out last year.

Fortunately there was hardly a drop of rain to be seen in Moranbah at the weekend, with the five-race card going a long way to filling the club coffers in the meantime.

Short-priced favourite, Sunset Dancer ($1.70), claimed a comfortable win over 1000m in Moranbah, while the long-odds Take a Stand ($12), streaked home by five lengths to win over 1250m in race two.

Joe Kiwla did even better in race five to win by more than 10 lengths and picked up a handy $3300 share of the prize money.

One unlucky owner was left out of pocket after his horse collapsed and died from a suspected heart attack, post-race in Moranbah. The horse had apparently raced early in the day before its sudden death on Saturday afternoon.

No further details were available at the time of print.

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