Caption: The trots are a popular attraction in the main arena at the Ekka
Roll up, roll up, it's Royal Queensland Show time and harness racing is back at the Ekka.
Commencing today until 16 August the RNA Show Grounds transform into a wonderland filled with sights, sounds, attractions and animals for the whole family to enjoy. Expected to attract more than 400,000 visitors, the Ekka showcases Queensland's produce, culture, resources and initiatives and after a successful return to the show ring last year harness racing is back as a main attraction.
For the next 10 days, in addition to Queensland's normal TAB harness racing, non-TAB harness racing will be conducted at the Ekka.
Commencing tonight with the opening race at 5.30pm, harness racing will be featured twice a day in the main arena with three races staged in 30 - 45 minute blocks each week day from noon and finals raced each evening from 6.30pm. Two races and a final will be raced in the same timeslots on the two weekends.
Racing Queensland recieved 54 nominations for the show races with horses from the stables of Lola and Julie Weideman, Ricky Gordon, Ricky Hart, Darren Ebert, Trent Hodges/Kevin Annetts and Clint Sneddon/Stephen Woodward the first to race tonight. A $10,000 Garrard's Big Dog Final for the best performers at the Show will be staged on Sunday 16 August. The Weidemann's are the defending show champions, winning last year's grand final with Lonesome Mach.
The RNA show track is approximately 400 metres (1/4 mile), four laps to the metric 1609m mile and provides a great spectale and excitement for new and old audiences.
Show stalwart Kerry Ebert, a trainer and former driver described show racing as the best advertisement for our sport.
"A lot people at the show are getting to see our exciting sport for the first time and for others it brings back fond memories of when trot races were a staple part of the shows," Ebert said.
"You cannot beat the thrill of driving at the show under lights after the fireworks, kids and mums and dads cheering all the way making you feel like a rockstar. "Everyone loves it and it was great when it returned after a long absence from the Ekka ring last year."
Some of Queensland's best pacers are past show champions including the greats, Stormy Water and Lucky Creed.
Many of this year's competitors have had plenty of practice on the smaller show tracks with show races already held at Toowoomba, Sunshine Coast, Gympie, Nanango and Caboolture.
This year's show race calling roster features Queensland's number one thoroughbred caller David Fowler, the versatile interstater Matthew Hill, who has been calling harness races recently in Victoria, Radio TAB's Damian Courtney, John Brasch and Dean Jones and Racing Queensland's David Aldred.
The mini trotters will also feature at the show with the kids and ponies featured in the main ring next weekend.
Racing Queensland will be very visible at the Show promoting the three racing codes. The Greyhound Adoption program will be promoted in the canine pavilion with some of Queensland’s best-loved dogs, including seasoned veteran Murphy who will be making his 10th visit to the Ekka. Also in the canine pavilion, Racing Queensland will be running the greyhound sweepstakes, which has attracted 70 nominations all vying for more than $6,000 in prizemoney. The sweepstakes is a family-focused event with non-racing, racing and re-homed greyhounds competing for the best in show title.
The Racing College Queensland will have a stand this year with a number of training advisers on hand to talk about careers in the racing industry. The College offers a number of registered qualifications for those looking to work in horse or greyhound racing and the Ekka is a great opportunity to learn more about how you can become involved.
David Aldred - RQ News 7 August 2015