Racing Queensland has announced a three-year increase to the base driving fee for harness participants from next week.
Having agreed to a 22% increase last year, the base driving fee for all races worth $3000 or more will rise by $17 per drive between 2018 and 2021 following positive negotiations with the Breeders Owners Trainers and Reins-persons Association of Queensland.
The incremental increases will be implemented as follows:
- 2018: $10 per drive increase to $55 per drive;
- 2019: $2 per drive increase to $57 per drive;
- 2020: $3 per drive increase to $60 per drive; and
- 2021: $2 per drive increase to $62 per drive.
The commitment comes just days after RQ announced an additional $1 million in prize money for the harness code to deliver a suite of initiatives. They include:
- All Friday races increase to minimum $6,500;
- All Tuesday races increase to minimum $8,000; and
- Restricted penalty races at Redcliffe increased to $4,000 (+14%).
In addition to the prize money increases, the Sunshine Sprint has risen to $100k and returns to Group 1 status in the latest in a slew of positive announcements for the code.
These include the recent RQ announcement that it would fund insurance for participants in 2019 and 2020 and increase the regularity of grassroots racing opportunities on Sundays to twice monthly as it continues its drive to ensure the long-term viability and sustainability of the code.
During the current financial year, wagering revenue on Queensland product has increased by more than 5%, while individual and total starters are up 4%.
Total turnover remains on track to break last year’s record, with a 10% uplift since the beginning of the 2017/18 financial year.
“Harness racing continues to go from strength-to-strength in the Sunshine State,” RQ COO Adam Wallish said.
“In the past week alone, we have seen $1 million prize money increase, the launch of the inaugural Stallions Australasia Springboard Series for 2YO trotters and now a three-year commitment to increase the base driving fee for our participants.
“Not only does today’s announcement provide certainty and surety to both parties over the next three years – highlighting the positive and collaborative approach between RQ and BOTRA on the matter – but it also acknowledges the outstanding service provided by our drivers.
“Presently, the current average age of our top-10 drivers in Queensland is just 29 which demonstrates the opportunities available within the code.
“We want to ensure these drivers, and those that follow them including our pony trot participants, can continue to forge a career in harness racing.”
BOTRA President Daren Garrard welcomed the three-year agreement on behalf of his members which he said would be positively received.
“We’re pleased to continue to work with RQ on strategic, sustainable measures to improve benefits for our members,” Mr Garrard said
“We believe the agreement appropriately recognises the contribution made by drivers to racing in this state.”
“We believe the outcomes to be fair and reasonable and our members look forward to continuing their contribution to the resurgence of racing here in Queensland.”