Newspaper article The Daily Mercury (Mackay, Australia)

Ooralea Revamp on Right Track

Newspaper article The Daily Mercury (Mackay, Australia)

Ooralea Revamp on Right Track

Article excerpt

MACKAY racing is a big winner.

Yesterday's Daily Mercury front page report announcing $10 million in funding to transform the Ooralea racecourse is massive news for the industry and our city.

It is a huge show of faith in the future of Mackay racing from Queensland Racing Limited (QRL) and the State Government.

Let's put this in perspective.

The government has just announced a funding package of $80 million over four years to develop key racing facilities around the state.

We're grabbing at least $10 million, or one-eighth, of those funds.

Along with the Gold Coast Turf Club, which is also set for a major redevelopment, we'll enjoy the lion's share of the cash on offer.

That should silence the doomsayers who have claimed for years that Queensland Racing was allowing the Mackay club to die a slow death.

There has been plenty of criticism of Queensland Racing in recent years, including in this column, that Mackay has been treated like a poor cousin to Rockhampton and Townsville.

But Queensland Racing must be applauded for its spectacular funding commitment to Mackay which will allow for much-needed upgrades to the track and spectator facilities, as well as on-course stabling.

Mackay Turf Club president Ian Joblin and his committee must also be congratulated for the behind-the-scenes work they've been putting in to secure the funding.

New chief operations manager Ben Faulkner, who takes up his position on February 1, will also be stoked.

Part of his brief is to improve non-raceday revenue which would have been difficult without the major revamp that will be possible with the new funding.

Major capital works at the Ooralea racecourse have been on hold for some time as the possibility of a new track, in conjunction with the showgrounds relocation, was explored.

But now, with $10 million for the existing Ooralea site, the vision forward is clear and, hopefully, the redevelopment will start as soon as possible after our carnival in July. …

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