Premier features ready to jump in front of crowds
Sunshine Coast Turf Club CEO John Miller is “rapt” to not just be hosting black type racing again this weekend but to have fans trackside for their premier features.
While the Caloundra Cup was cancelled last month, the Glasshouse Handicap and Winx Guineas (formerly Sunshine Coast Guineas) will get under way on Saturday at Corbould Park.
With stage three COVID-19 restrictions easing, crowds can also get trackside for what are traditionally two of the region’s biggest races.
“We’re very excited to start to get back to a bit of normality and start to welcome some people back on course and get racing back to how it used to be in a sense,” Miller said.
“We’re very fortunate that we’ve been able to race right through the COVID situation but we haven’t been able to have people on course and now that’s opening up a bit so really looking forward to hosting a Saturday metropolitan day and having people on track for it.”
Normally $175,000 races, both the Glasshouse Handicap and Winx Guineas will have reduced prizemoney — $85,000 and $125,000 respectively — this weekend following Racing Queensland’s decision to cut back winnings for black type features while they traverse the COVID-19 pandemic.
The turf club officially welcomed back crowds for the first time on Sunday, but Miller expected a bigger showing this Saturday.
“We’re fortunate because of the size and nature of the venue being so big and the open spaces we’ve got that we’re able to really spread people out,” he said.
“We’re obviously hoping to get a good crowd but with the short notice we won’t have the level of hospitality bookings we would’ve normally had for a meeting like this.
“But, we’re just rapt we can have a Saturday meeting and have people on track.
“It’s really positive and fantastic for the local community now trying to get back to some normality and for people to be able to come out to the racetrack.”
It’ll be the first time the newly named Winx Guineas will run.
The wonder mare won the race in 2015, kickstarting her 33 straight victories.
He said they wouldn’t just be spreading people out around the open spaces but ensuring queuing areas for the bar and TAB were adhering to social distancing.
“There’ll be plenty of cleaning and sanitisation going on around the course and we have to record everyone who comes on course so that’s logistically a challenge for us,” he said,
“There is still lot of restrictions in play but it’s as normal as we can get at the moment for what we’re used to.”