Racing Queensland chief executive Brendan Parnell believes the redesigned summer carnival with its Magic Millions grand final is challenging the traditional winter carnival as the state’s premier racing festival.
The winter still has the group 1 racing, but Queensland are looking to own the summer when the weather is good and many visitors head north for holidays. The lead of NSW with innovation and new races is being followed to develop a summer brand.
Exhilarates storms home to win last year’s Magic Millions Classic.Credit:AAP
“It is a time we can and should own,” Parnell said. “Sydney and Melbourne want to fight it out over the spring, but we are happy to develop a world-class carnival in the summer.
“Our pockets aren’t as deep as Racing NSW, but we are looking to develop new races and concepts. We understand that owners and trainers want to come for Magic Millions, but we want them to be here for a couple of runs before it.
"We would like to get more group racing in this period and make it more of a target carnival. This is only the start.”
The Queensland summer carnival was launched on a yacht owned by Aquis Farm, an emerging power of the Queensland industry, on the Gold Coast broadwater under blazing sun on Tuesday.
The nine-week carnival has more than $21 million in prizemoney and features several new or relocated races including The Gateway for four-year-olds at Eagle Farm on December 14 and the Grand Prix Stakes, which has been moved from the winter to December 21, for three-year-old stayers.
Sydney and Melbourne want to fight it out over the spring, but we are happy to develop a world-class carnival in the summer.
The Wave, which is a Magic Millions qualifier a week out from Queensland’s richest day, continues the focus on three and four-year-old racing.
The Queensland Summer 5, starting with The Gateway meeting at Eagle Farm, will build expectation towards Magic Millions day. The Gateway follows the lead of NSW with its new Golden Eagle for four-year-old and offers a spot in the Stradbroke for the winner.
“It is good to link the summer to the winter and we will look to develop those links further in both directions,” Parnell said.
“The Summer 5 gives us a series of meetings that build to our grand final on Magic Millions.
“We have looked to strength our semi-final days with the Road To Magic Millions at Eagle Farm on December 28 offering four wildcards into Magic Millions race.
“We have strengthened the Gold Coast meeting on January 4 with the Gold Nugget and Gold Pearl giving the two-year-olds a final chance to impress before the Magic Millions Classic, which has been a winning formula with Le Chef, Houtzen, Sunlight and Exhilarates.
“This meeting also extends the Magic Millions brand with three races restricted to Magic Millions horses on that day.
“Magic Millions is one of our biggest days of the year and we think we need a carnival around it.”
Meanwhile, Racing NSW were forced to call off the Warwick Farm barrier trials and Taree races on Tuesday as a smoky haze plunged the air quality into the very poor range.
Stewards are continuing to monitor the air quality ahead of Wednesday’s Rosehill meeting, which could be cancelled if the air quality is rated poor.
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