Racing Queensland’s early release of a modified schedule of feature racing in the major country centres will see the re-mergence of the annual trek north by horses from the south of the state.
In recent months, the Queensland racing industry has continued under strict biosecurity measures including patron-free meetings due to coronavirus restrictions.
Under the current rules horses can travel between regions but jockeys, trainers and strappers have to self-isolate for 14 days which puts a question mark on southern horses travelling to the country carnivals.
The early announcement of a return to feature racing means the southern trainers have more time to make plans to go north.
Southern horses usually play a key role at country carnivals and in particular at Rockhampton and Mackay.
Rockhampton, Mackay, Townsville and Cairns will host their annual Cup meetings with reduced prize money levels.
The big prize money Queensland Northern Crowns Series will not proceed due to COVID-19 but RQ has programmed a dozen features.
The four Cups will be worth $85,000 each and the major sprints $65,000.
“Our Cup meetings across central and north Queensland are among the highlights on the state’s regional racing calendar,” RQ chief executive Brendan Parnell said.
“While COVID-19 has impacted on our ability to run a traditional winter carnival, we’re pleased to be able to retain the staying, sprinting and Guineas features in 2020.”