Questions raised about Eagle Farm track
QUEENSLAND Racing needs to provide some quick answers to a number of questions after a second meeting on its brand new Eagle Farm track left many punters "gun shy" about betting on future races.
The false rail, which was out three metres for its grand opening on Stradbroke Day, was shifted out another three metres on Saturday.
It was obvious from race one on the big 10 race card, as jockeys all scouted wide around the turn, that the inside going was inferior.
Eagle Farm stewards, under the rules, denied leading training John O'Shea's request to scratch Godolphin's runner Mogador, a pronounced favourite for the $175,000 Group III W.J. Healey Stakes (1200m).
"These are extenuating circumstances," O'Shea told Racenet, explaining his scratching request.
"I was informed that with the rail out six metres the track would be OK, but that isn't the case."
The stewards applied the rules to the letter and Mogador ran a battling third behind the well-supported Into the Red.
In the following race, top-weight Tsarista - rated the bet of the day - was a good thing beaten off the one alley, after jockey Hugh Bowman was forced to go back to last and weave his way through the field with every horse trying to get wide on the track.
Punters had already backed the Lohnro three-year-old heavily straight out and also in quaddies and trifectas before O'Shea's failed approach to the stewards.
After watching the opening races, O'Shea was very unhappy with how horses were getting through the shifting inside surface which quickly became a "no-go zone" for jockeys, although some did gamble on taking a "shortcut" on the home turn only to get bogged down.
The questions punters are asking is why is the inside 10 metres IS so much worse than the rest of the track when there has been no racing on it?
With jockeys desperate to get off the fence and get their mounts to the outside, does it make for dangerous racing?
When they do finally move the rail back to the inside, what will the going be like?
Punters will want to see a marked improvement in track consistency before they can bet confidently.
There is no suggestion stewards did the wrong thing in turning down O'Shea's request.
If he wasn't happy with the barrier and the early track report he should have scratched under the rules.
The question now though is with racing underway on the new surface, can Racing Queensland fix the problem and restore punters' confidence?