Hugh Bowman riding Winx at Moonee Valley this week ahead of the Cox Plate. Picture: vince Caligiuri/Getty
Hugh Bowman riding Winx at Moonee Valley this week ahead of the Cox Plate. Picture: vince Caligiuri/Getty

Racing’s very public vote of no confidence

QUEENSLAND racing heavyweights have signed an extraordinary open letter to the State Government ahead of unprecedented strike action on one of Australian racing's biggest days.

All TAB meetings across Queensland have been cancelled tomorrow, on a day when champion mare Winx will try to extend her winning streak by claiming the Cox Plate for a record fourth time.

Appearing in The Courier-Mail today, the letter to the State Government says the sector has lost confidence in the State Government's handling of the industry.

"In an unprecedented action, all TAB meetings across Queensland have been abandoned," the letter reads.

BRC Chairman Neville Bell at Eagle Farm race course in 2016. Picture: Tara Croser.
BRC Chairman Neville Bell at Eagle Farm race course in 2016. Picture: Tara Croser.

"With the support of horse owners, trainers refused to enter their horses. Jockeys refused to ride. They did this because industry stakeholders have lost confidence in the State Government's handling of the racing industry. After years of frustrating discussions, strike action was the only option left."

Hugh Bowman on Winx at Moonee Valley this week ahead of the Cox Plate. Picture: Michael Dodge/Getty Images)
Hugh Bowman on Winx at Moonee Valley this week ahead of the Cox Plate. Picture: Michael Dodge/Getty Images)

The letter is signed by Brisbane Racing Club chairman Neville Bell, Cairns Jockey Club chairman Tom Hedley, Gold Coast Turf Club chairman Brett Cook, Ipswich Turf Club chairman Wayne Patch, Mackay Turf Club chairman John Philps, Rockhampton Jockey Club chairman Robert Carr, Sunshine Coast Turf Club chairman Peter Boyce, Tattersall's Racing

Club chairman Stuart Fraser, Toowoomba Turf Club chairman Kent Woodford and Townsville Turf Club chairman Malcolm Petrofski.

The focus of the dispute is a tax on wagering, with arguments there will not be enough of a return to the industry, particularly thoroughbred racing.

"This is a huge blow to the income of tens of thousands of people employed within thoroughbred racing across the state. It's the same industry that has delivered Queensland stars who have conquered the nation's sporting peaks - Melbourne Cups, Caulfield Cup, Golden Slippers and Cox Plates."

Earlier this month, Premier Annastacia Palaszczuk said the racing industry would get a new greyhound track and another for harness racing, collectively worth $20 million and funded by the tax, on top of millions in government funding each year.

"Let me be very clear, the racing industry has had a large amount of money from my government for infrastructure across the state."

However, the letter draws attention to prizemoney on offer in the Sunshine State.

"The industry's wages come from prizemoney. But the prizemoney for our Saturday metropolitan race meetings is now at 45 per cent of Sydney's level. Ten years ago, it was at 75 per cent."

Commenting on the strike earlier this week, Ms Palaszczuk said the State Government was "continuing to have discussions with the racing industry".