Eagle Farm fiasco: Crisis meeting called over surface concerns as track saga refuses to go away

Eagle Farm track anger has reached boiling point with an industry crisis meeting called and some trainers even demanding the unthinkable of tearing up the controversial racing surface for the third time.

An email from the Australian Trainers’ Association Queensland division to Racing Queensland bosses, including chief executive Brendan Parnell, outlines how the premier track which was first closed for renovations in 2014 has again reached the flashpoint of “immediate concern.”

Trainers believe a series of renovations and refurbishments have been botched, despite about $1 million being spent on the maintenance of the troubled track in the last 12 months.

The ATA’s Queensland representative Cameron Partington penned the email, seen by The Courier-Mail, after he surveyed trainers about the current state of the much-maligned track.

Two areas of concern are issues of the past … track hardness and kickback causing injury.Source:AAP

“There are many comments that are welfare-based, from the hardness of the track and the kickback causing injury,” the email says.

“There are many comments that are performance based, with horses just not handling the hardness below and the shifty surface on top.

Anonymous responses from trainers included calls to rip the track up again.Source:AAP

“Very soon even more trainers will just stop running their horses there, out of pure concern for their welfare or for their ability to perform there.”

Responses of trainers were included in the email, on an anonymous basis.

Many of them followed a similar theme and included:

# “There seems to have been years of mismanagement of this track. The only solution is to rip the track up and put a sensible foundation down.”

# “Not sure of solution (other than to go back to the same track that performed well for 100yrs) but I feel they have the profile wrong and wrong grass on it.”

“I know money is everything but dig the thing up start again only way, otherwise same stuff ongoing.”

The infamous Darley Kingsford Smith Cup Day in 2017 when the excessive turf kickback was blinding to anymore caught back in the field.Source:AAP

RQ have quickly agreed to a crisis meeting over the issue and at least three prominent Queensland trainers are expected to attend.

RQ chief executive Parnell said in a statement to The Courier-Mail: “We’ve agreed to meet with our trainers and jockeys, along with the BRC, to work through their concerns and to provide them with our recommended program in the lead up to winter and beyond.

“We’re working diligently with the BRC on improving what remains a young racing surface and this includes additional verti-cutting and draining since Saturday to provide extra cushioning to the racing surface.”

Racing Queensland chief executive Brendan Parnell says it will be meeting with the relevant parties to work through the latest concerns. Picture: Tara CroserSource:News Corp Australia

Partington said: “We have a very good working relationship with RQ and now we have formally bought our serious concerns to their attention, we look forward to a solution for the betterment of racing for all participants.

“We are pleased RQ has acknowledged our request for an urgent meeting of key stakeholders and this has been scheduled for the week after Magic Millions.

“We want some solutions but we don’t want those solutions to be more of the same renovations and remedies we have seen in the past.”

It is extraordinary to think that Eagle Farm, Queensland racing’s grand old lady, has been stuck in troubled times for more than six years.

Brisbane Racing Club chief executive Tony Partridge says management of the track is due to be handed over from RQ to the BRC in April.Source:News Corp Australia

Racing Queensland shut the track down in August 2014 and took over the upgrade of the track which involved ripping up the existing surface.

It was reopened in 2016 but a series of fresh problems emerged which involved further renovations and shutdowns.

Recent complaints have ranged from the wrong type of grass being used (the Monteith Report in 2017 recommended wintergreen but Grand Prix Couch was laid) to the wrong base (sand was used).

During a recent Eagle Farm Saturday meeting, three-time Melbourne Cup-winning jockey Glen Boss sent out a public warning that the track was not up to scratch.

Horse Racing: With only a few strides to go the heavily backed favourite has slammed on the brakes leaving punters heartbroken….

Horse Racing: With only a few strides to go the heavily backed favourite has slammed on the brakes leaving punters heartbroken.

The latest of the Eagle Farm complaints is that the top layer is too soft and “chops out” but the layer underneath is hard.

BRC chief executive Tony Partridge said the management and maintenance of the Eagle Farm track was due to be handed over from RQ to the BRC in April.

“We understand there are concerns from stakeholders,” Partridge said.

“Prior to the handover date, the BRC is conducting a review to ensure the track is of the standard we expect of our premier metropolitan venue and meets the high standards we expect for equine welfare.”

Originally published asNot again! Trainers blast Eagle Farm track, crisis meeting called

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