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Queensland officials will target sprinters and three-year-olds when they visit major New Zealand training centres on a winter carnival recruiting drive.

Racing Queensland and the Brisbane Race Club are hoping to reach the heights of the 1990s with kiwis visiting Brisbane.

New Zealand horses have been the backbone of visiting horses to the carnival for decades but in recent times the quality of the horses has dropped off.

Racing Queensland’s chief executive Darren Condon said the group would visit Cambridge, Trentham, Ellerslie, and Karaka next week.

“We would like to get back to the dizzy heights when kiwi horses such as Rough Habit and co visited Brisbane,” Condon said.

“This year we will be emphasising that the Stradbroke Handicap is worth $2 million which is twice as much as the biggest sprint race in New Zealand,” Condon said.

He said it would also be emphasised that the Stradbroke would be run at Doomben over 1350 metres which opened the race to a different type of sprinter.

“Some trainers might not have come in previous years because they were worried about the 1400 metres at Eagle Farm,” he said.

“But 1350 around Doomben is a different kettle of fish and it is a race 1200 and 1300 (metre) type sprinters can also target.”

Condon said the winner of a race at Ellerslie in March would be exempt from the ballot for the Queensland Derby and Queensland Oaks.

“It was at the urging of the kiwi trainers and we hope will attract some top class three year olds,” he said.

RQ and BRC officials will also visit NSW and Victorian training centres next month to promote the carnival.

“With Eagle Farm closed it will be a different type of winter carnival but no less exciting,” Condon said.

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