It’s been a long time between feature race days for Clifford Park racing enthusiasts, but that lengthy wait will come to a spectacular end in less than four weeks’ time.
Toowoomba Turf Club returns to the national spotlight this month when it hosts Queensland’s premier race meeting on Saturday, September 26.
The rich afternoon program boasts four feature events, headlined by the historic Audi Centre Weetwood Handicap over 1200 metres.
The $125,000 Listed Weetood Handicap will become a new spring target for Queensland’s leading stables, home-town trainers and interstate candidates.
The time-honoured Weetwood highlights a nine-race card also featuring the $125,000 TAB Toowooomba Cup (2000m), $100,000 Moore Trailers Toowoomba Guineas (1625m) and $125,000 Toowoomba Truck Spares Pat O’Shea Plate over 1000 metres.
The Pat O’Shea Plate heralds the start of Australia’s new two-year-old racing season.
This year’s Weetwood race day marks a new era for Toowoomba racing.
The gala afternoon meeting will be the first, in the Weetwood’s 130-year history, to be staged in its new spring-time timeslot.
Toowoomba’s premier race, until last year, was traditionally an autumn event.
Toowoomba Turf Club chairman Kent Woodford said the Weetwood’s switch to September is part of an ambitious Racing Queensland plan to help further lift the profile of the Clifford Park race day as part of a new Queensland spring racing program.
“The driving force behind the switch to spring is to become part of the Racing Queensland Spring Carnival,” Mr Woodford said.
“I think perhaps the day was becoming a little “lost” previously as a lead-in to the Queensland Winter Carnival and now we become one of the major players in the new spring format.
“This move ensures we retain our stand-alone Queensland race day and I think our Clifford Park trainers, owners and stakeholders deserve that recognition.
“Seeing the Pat O’Shea Plate promoted to metropolitan status is another huge bonus for a great event and our club.
“From a social point of view, the September Toowoomba Carnival Of Flowers is the city’s major drawcard which attracts a lot of visitors.
“It’s another plus for our major race day to run in unison with something as iconic as the carnival.
“Our September 26 race day will be the city’s first major social event since the arrival of COVID-19 and we’re looking forward to presenting Toowoomba to the national stage.”
By Glen McCullough