$6.9m turf restoration a vital boost for racing industry
THE reinstatement of a turf track at the Clifford Park race course in Toowoomba will ensure the region's thoroughbred industry kicks off the new year with a bang, Racing Minister Steve Dickson said today.
Mr Dickson said the project to rebuild the turf track, which will be officially opened at a New Year's Eve race meeting tomorrow, is emblematic of the Newman Government's efforts to rebuild racing in Queensland.
He said the $6.9 million project was essential for the viability of the industry on the Darling Downs and, in turn, strategically important for the industry at a State level.
"The new track elevates Clifford Park to the very top bracket of tracks for thoroughbred racing in Australia," Mr Dickson said.
"It has been delivered as part of the State Government's $110 million commitment over five years for racing infrastructure improvements across the state.
Mr Dickson said the previous grass course proper had been converted to a synthetic surface in 2008 as a result of the drought, with the intention of being able to provide a consistent racing surface in all-weather conditions.
However, the change of surface had triggered a loss of confidence within the industry locally which, could have resulted in an even more serious collapse.
Mr Dickson said wagering turnover had declined significantly and the number of horses racing and being trained in Toowoomba had also fallen away following installation of the synthetic track.
"Unlike the previous Labor Government, we've listened to the industry and the concerns that were expressed about the serious situation at Clifford Park, looked at the evidence, and acted accordingly."
Toowoomba Turf Club chairman Bob Frappell said reinstatement of the turf racing surface would breathe new life into the club and the local racing industry following a difficult and unsettling period.
"More importantly, the future of racing in Toowoomba will be secured for coming generations," he said.