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30th July 2006

Queensland Racing Industry

Late in June 2006 the Deputy Chairman of Queensland Racing Tony Hanmer made a speech which provided a great insight into the history of Queensland Racing.

From July 1, 2006 Queensland Racing will become Queensland Racing Limited and the approved body for the Thoroughbred code in Queensland.

Racing occupies a vital place in Queensland’s cultural and sporting life. It also makes an important contribution to the State’s economy, generating jobs, fostering tourism and creating wealth throughout Queensland. Racing has a rich and colourful history in Australia that can be traced back to the earliest days of colonisation by Europeans.

1843 saw Queensland’s first organised racing meeting held at Coorparoo, with the first official race meeting conducted 1865 by the Queensland Turf Club. Queensland racing has a record of innovation, often placing it at the cutting edge of the development of the sport and industry of racing.

In 1878, the world’s first totalisator was unveiled at Ipswich, west of Brisbane. In 1901, the year of federation, “Electric light racing” commenced at the Gabba in Brisbane’s east.

With the growth of the sport and the federation of the colonies into the Australian nation, came the need to introduce standardised rules for conducting racing. By 1912 the principal clubs that controlled racing in each state had agreed on the Australian Rules of Racing.

Racing is all about champions. Queensland has produced some truly great horses and the Queensland racing public has witnessed history being made at the track. In 1946, Bernborough, arguably Queensland’s greatest horse, won 15 successive events including the Doomben Double.

In 1961, a record crowd farewelled the great Tulloch at the Brisbane Cup; and in 1973, Gunsynd, the Goondiwindi Grey, immortalised by Tex Morton, was farewelled at Doomben.

Queensland led the way with the introduction of the racecourse totalisator, and in 1962 followed Victoria’s lead in legalising off-course betting through the Queensland TAB. The TAB was created in response to concerns in the early 1960’s that illegal “SP” bookmaking had become a major problem. Apart from providing a legal form of off-course betting, the TAB provided a source of income for race clubs and revenue for government. TAB Queensland has grown from humble beginnings to become the billion-dollar operation it is today.

Today computers are such a part of mainstream life that it seems incredible that it was not until 1977 that the TAB took its first automated telephone bet and 1980 that it introduced computerised betting.

In 1999, the Queensland Government approved privatisation of the TAB. In formation of the TAB began a process of liberating racing from the confines of racecourses and taking it to the public wherever they were.

In 1986, Sky Channel began broadcasting races live to Queensland hotels and clubs.

By 1991, racing had its own radio station, 4TAB, to serve the Queensland public with live race coverage and racing information. Three years later, telephone betting with bookmakers was legalised.

By 1990, the Queensland Government believed the State’s five principal clubs were no longer able to provide the leadership and management the racing industry needed for it to meet the challenges of an increasingly complex and competitive environment.

The Government released it “Green Paper” for restructuring racing administration and, after lengthy industry consultation, the Queensland Principal Club, the forerunner to Queensland Racing, was created in 1992 with the purpose of unifying racing administration in the State.

With privatisation of the TAB, now known as UNiTAB, in 1999, the racing industry became master of its destiny. The new arrangements meant the industry’s revenue was directly tied to its ability to generate betting turnover. The industry would succeed or fail on its merits.

To address the new commercial realities, a skills-based board was appointed to head Queensland Racing in 2002. The board focussed on rationalising Queensland’s racing calender to maximise betting turnover on Queensland races.

Today marks another chapter in the Queensland racing history books.”

Reference: justracing.com.au