Eagle Farm Debacle: Queensland Oaks Moved To Doomben
After receiving much criticism from both trainers and jockeys, the Eagle Farm race track has lost two huge meetings in June. First the Queensland Oaks will move away from the course to Doomben, and just a week later the Stradbroke Handicap meeting will also follow suit.
It is a big blow for the course and one that is expected to cost the local racing industry $900,000. While the Brisbane Racing Club, who runs both meetings, did not want to move, they have been forced into the switch by Racing Queensland.
The issues at Eagle Farm all focus on the racing surface, which has been slammed by trainers and jockeys in recent weeks for its poor condition.
The surface was described as heavy last weekend, despite the area seeing no meaningful rainfall in the week leading up to the race. It is because of this, and no visible improvements, that Racing Queensland have felt the need to step in and look for a solution.
Racing Queensland have commented on the situation stating that right now Doomben offers a more suitable racing surface for Group One racing. Eagle Farm has had more than $10 million spent on the course but the drainage is so poor right now that no one is prepared to let group racing take place at the track.
Leading jockey Kerrin McEvoy described the course last weekend as the worst he has ever ridden on, such was his disappointment with the surface. McEvoy is scheduled to ride Egg Tart in the Queensland Oaks, the current favourite for the race so the switch will certainly be good news for him. McEvoy threw doubts over Egg Tart’s ability to handle the track at Eagle Farm after riding on the surface last week and the horse will now have a much better chance of winning the race thanks to the switch. Trainer Chris Waller is another from within the sport to be vocal about the state of Eagle Farm, he is another who will be very happy now the switch has taken place.
Egg Tart and rider Kerrin McEvoy will both be looking to complete a Group One Classic double this weekend after winning the SAJC Schweppes Oaks on May 6th. The daughter of Sebring looks to have a favourite’s chance of doing so and the slight change of distance in the race will also help her. The scheduled distance was 2400M at Eagle Farm, but the switch to Doomben has forced the race back to 2200M. This is now less than 200M further than her win in the Schweppes Oaks and something that is certainly in her favour.
While the change of venue is not ideal, especially to a smaller course, the Queensland Oaks is still a race worth looking forward to. Egg Tart goes into the race as a popular favourite and will be tough beat as she looks to land a famous Group One Classic double for herself and her star rider Kerrin McEvoy.
Craig Jones covers horse racing around the world for Knightsbridge Bloodstock.
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