THE National Finals Rodeo to be contested this week on the Gold Coast has been postponed until April 7-10 due to floods, while Magic Millions organisers still take a punt on the weather.
With all major arterial roads blocked and rural Queensland in the grip of devastating deluge, rodeo organisers today agreed to pull the pin on the event. Rodeo spokesperson John Osborne says it was the right decision.
“The biggest issue is not the Gold Coast, but the bucking bulls and rodeo horses are stuck 1000 miles away in floods,” he says.
“The decision was made so that the people who were coming won’t be stranded on the side of the road between Moree and Goondiwindi for 10 days. It’s the right thing to do.”
There are also concerns that this weekend’s $2M Magic Millions 2yo Classic could be postponed until Sunday, or at worse cancelled. Last week’s racing calendar was also cancelled due to rain and a ‘double phantom’ event appears likely. Optimistic organisers are confident that the ‘party in the paddock’, to be held in the racecourse infield, will still go ahead.
Gold Coast Turf Club Chairman Andrew Eggleston is confident the Bundall racecourse will be in a condition to host this Saturday’s feature raceday. The track received 28mm rain in the past 24 hours, but escaped the worst of the rain that hit Brisbane and the outer areas of the capital city today.
“The Gold Coast Turf Club track is widely regarded as the best wet weather track in Queensland, if not Australia,” he says.
"It is also Australia's most raced-on turf track, hosting 58 race meetings a year. It has superb natural drainage and needs the skies to clear for just a day between now and the weekend to achieve significant recovery. Racecourse Manager Steve Andrews and his team are working tirelessly to ensure we race the 2011 BMW Magic Millions Carnival on Saturday and we’re all very confident the track will prove itself."
Magic Millions managing director Stephen Silk (pictured) is ‘under the pump’ but hoping that forecast improved conditions tomorrow will result in the yearling sales and racing on Saturday going ahead as planned.
“At this stage, it’s all systems go,” he says.
“As far as the sales are concerned, the buyers are here and ready to go at 11am tomorrow. Racing on Saturday looks good at this stage but in the event of more rain we may reschedule for Sunday.”
Under a blazing Gold Coast sun just last month, Silk announced a bold growth plan that included moving the entire 2011 racing carnival to on-track facilities for the first time.
“This is a very exciting time. The new partnership we have with Events Queensland, the Queensland Government (with Racing Queensland Ltd) and Gold Coast Turf Club allows us to really build this wonderful event over the next seven years,” he said.
Last month the Gold Coast Turf Club received $49 million commitment from Racing Queensland Limited (RQL) as part of its Industry Infrastructure Plan. The spending is to upgrade the racing and training facilities to a metropolitan standard.
The Magic Millions is one of the Gold Coast’s premier sporting events and has become a multi-million dollar tourism phenomenon. Sales were down almost half last year compared to 2009 due to the economic downturn and organisers were hoping for a bumper 2011.
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