David Vandyke has become the first trainer to officially pull the plug on the Eagle Farm track announcing that he would no longer nominate horses to race at the controversy plagued city venue until further notice.
That is HUGE news!
It might be just one trainer’s decision at this stage, but the concern for Racing Queensland has to be that Vandyke’s decision might just be the tip of an iceberg and, if nothing else, it brings home the very, very serious nature of the concern that trainers have not only about the racing surface itself, but also about what is being done to solve a problem that has tested the patience of participants for far too long.
The old Johnny Nash song … ‘there are more questions than answers’ … could be the theme song of the Eagle Farm racetrack story.
Truth be told, you could have written a report on the so-called crisis meeting held last Wednesday between officials from Racing Queensland, The Brisbane Racing Club, The Queensland Branch of the Australian Trainers’ Association, The Queensland Jockey’s Association and some senior jockeys … with regard to the on-going concern about the Eagle Farm track … before the meeting had even taken place.
You only had to look at the form to come out of past meetings of this nature to be able to safely predict that the meeting would afterwards be described as being ‘productive’ by some of those within the inner sanctum. The arrival of that comment was such a short-priced bet that bookmakers probably would have refused to put up a market for it.
Almost as predictable a response from authorities post-Wednesday’s meeting was the reference about the importance ‘to continue to engage with key stakeholders.’
Talk about Groundhog Day!
You don’t even have to have been involved in racing that long to recognize that we have all been here before and, sadly, experience has taught us that in this context ‘productive’ does not always live up to its definition of ‘achieving a significant amount or result,’ and engaging with certain pre-selected key stakeholders has hardly ever helped move things along at the required pace to reach a desired and necessary outcome.
So, for the record, here we go again.
Racing Queensland’s current position with regard to stakeholders on-going concerns about the Eagle Farm track, as reported in The Courier-Mail last week, is that:
“It’s important that RQ and the BRC continue to engage with key stakeholders, including the trainers and jockeys, to ensure that the course proper is befitting of our major metropolitan track,” Racing Queensland Chief Executive Brendan Parnell said.
“Having listened to today’s industry feedback, we will continue to refine our maintenance program to ensure the racing surface provides further cushioning ahead of the Winter Carnival. This includes further consultation in the lead up to and following our Winter Carnival to ensure that we are providing the best possible racing surface at Eagle Farm.”
What was that about there being more questions than answers?
What racing authorities have to realise is that they will never earn the confidence of stakeholders, participants and punters by spinning the same lines over and over again, particularly while their comments continue to come up short on specifics and timelines on which accountability can be measured.
And, no, this is not looking to play the blame game. Not at all.
It is looking to fix the problem.
Of course, there will be no overnight solution, but the bottom line is that everybody involved in racing in Queensland wants the same outcome … ie for the Eagle Farm track to present the type of quality racing surface befitting the a main metropolitan venue of the state.
What nobody wants is for another crisis meeting to be called again in three months, before the Winter Carnival, to discuss the ‘concerns.’
Like I said, we’ve been there before.
Another ban-aid solution will not cut it.
It is way beyond time for this situation to be turned on his head and a long-lasting solution brought into play … whatever it takes!