Queensland will go racing this spring after the state government and industry figures reached an agreement to boost prize money for thoroughbred meetings.
A deal brokered by Deputy Premier Jackie Trad, Racing Minister Stirling Hinchliffe and representatives of the Thoroughbred Alliance on Friday means an extra $26 million will be added to the prize money pool in the state.
The 25 per cent boost to prize money for thoroughbred TAB meetings will be broken up into two payments, with an initial $18 million injection and a further $8 million in six months.
The boost is conditional on the Thoroughbred Alliance continuing discussions with the government and signing up to broader industry reforms such as holding more TAB events in the state.
The agreement has come too late to salvage Saturday’s races at Brisbane’s Doomben, Gold Coast, Townsville and Toowoomba, which were cancelled after trainers, owners, jockeys and breeders began striking over the way race meetings are funded.
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But it will mean Queensland’s other spring carnival meetings, including those on Melbourne Cup day, will go ahead.
“Restores some confidence, but most importantly we’ve got a relationship now with the government that we can work on, go forward with and make even more benefits for the thoroughbred racing industry,” Thoroughbred Alliance spokesman Cameron Partington told reporters.
Mr Hinchliffe refused to confirm if the extra funds will be solely drawn from a $70 million windfall the government is poised to receive from a new 15 per cent tax on wagering in the state.
He said Friday’s agreement was about ensuring the creation of a sustainable thoroughbred racing industry in Queensland.
The state’s sole metropolitan race meet for Sunday will go ahead on the Sunshine Coast.