Turf Club considers future of Bowen Cup 2020
A DARK cloud has hovered over the future of one of the Whitsundays' biggest events, but the Bowen Turf Club is optimistic it will have punters through the doors come Bowen Cup time.
Already this year the Publican's Race Day and Whitsunday Cup have been called off, while a makeshift schedule of TAB meetings are being run at a select few tracks - notably Townsville - putting the future of major race days in question.
Secretary of the Bowen Turf Club Helen Daley said it was currently difficult to make a decision on whether the Bowen Cup, due to be held in October, would be open to the public.
"At this stage, both the Bowen Cup and the Ben Bolt Cup will be going ahead, but we don't know if we'll be able to have any of the public inside the turf club," she said.
"It's so up in the air at the moment. We're still planning but it's hard when we're not sure what to expect.
"March is the time we really get into planning, but that's when the (pandemic) started."
Ms Daley said despite most races currently taking place in a central location to limit movement, there had been positive steps taken to return to rural racing.
Racing Queensland introduced new zonal areas on Monday, effectively splitting the state into three racing zones, which will allow trainers from Rockhampton to Cairns to race in Bowen.
"Barring one Gympie trainer who stops off in Bowen on his way up to Cairns, that's where we would draw the majority of our trainers from," Ms Daley said.
"In the meantime we've been performing some small upgrades and general maintenance so we're ready to go when we get the green light."
Ms Daley said she was disappointed to potentially not let punters through the gates given the clubs growing attendance at race days.
The Bowen Cup saw a record 4000 people attend last year, with the 2019 Ben Bolt Cup seeing another record 700 perople attend.
"The club has been focusing on making these events bigger and better every year," she said.
"We're still planning so if they give us the green light, we will be ready.
"It's just going to come down to the community and the government now."