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Qld trainers question twilight meetings

Queensland trainers have again expressed concerns about a trend to late race meeting finishes after Toowoomba this week.

Wednesday’s meeting, which was scheduled as twilight as a late decision, ended in rain under lights in the dark at 6.30pm

Racing Queensland has been experimenting with late starts and late finishes with metropolitan racing this summer.

There is also a push for more night racing in Queensland with the Gold Coast and possibly Doomben set to join Toowoomba and the Sunshine Coast as tracks with race meeting standard lights in the near future.

Trainers are chasing compensation and say the main problem stems from late finishes and then early starts with track work.

Toowoomba took the Wednesday metropolitan meeting after it was moved from Ipswich and to help ease pressure on Doomben and Eagle Farm.

The Queensland branch of the Australian Trainers Association wrote to RQ on Thursday morning expressing its reservations about some twilight racing.

“Trainers, owners and jockeys are all understanding of an industry transition towards later racing and eventually more night racing as tracks come on board in the future,” the trainers wrote.

“However, what occurred on Wednesday at Toowoomba doesn’t help participants stay on the RQ page.

“This is not about the choice to move a midweek metro to Toowoomba. It’s the fact that the meeting evolved into a “twilight” meeting which was only known by participants when acceptances came out. The calendar and RISA make no mention of “twilight”.

QATA secretary Cameron Partington said 90 per cent of participants had to travel 90 minutes to 2-1/2 hours from Brisbane, Sunshine Coast and Gold Coast areas to Toowoomba.

“It is not ideal from a location perspective and is enough of a challenge. To then have them race approximately an hour later than a standard time had trainers, staff and horses getting home around 9pm,” Partington said.

“We all understand turnover and the repercussions it has for our industry. But we must balance this with the best interests of participants on some occasions. In our opinion, this was one of those occasions.”

RQ has said it will examine the gambling turnover figures, and impact on clubs, jockeys and trainers from the summer to determine whether the later finishes are justified.

It has also said it will look at ways to compensate industry participants.

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