Brisbane Group Ones could be at Doomben

Brisbane officials admit they may have to run their major winter carnival races at Doomben next year with work yet to begin on the Eagle Farm renovation.

The Stradbroke Handicap (1400m) would be reduced by 50 metres if the race was on the smaller Doomben circuit while the Queensland Oaks and Derby would be run over 2200 metres instead of 2400.

Eagle Farm closed on August 20 for a $22 million upgrade which was expected to be finished in April or May.

However, work is unlikely to begin until at least the end of September.

Brisbane Racing Club chairman Neville Bell confirmed the head engineer for the project had been appointed but the contract for the company to begin the work had still to be finalised.

“That is very close and should be done very soon. Work will begin shortly after that is done,” Bell said.

“I admit we might have to make a call as early as December about whether our Group One races can be run at Eagle Farm in late May-June.

“The BRC is committed to getting Eagle Farm back to its glory days and that will mean giving it every chance for the grass to take.”

He said there would be nothing worse than to rush the job and the club was prepared for a switch to Doomben.

“It is nothing unusual for the Group One races in the south to be run at different tracks,” he said.

“For example the Epsom has been run at Warwick Farm and in Melbourne it has happened on many occasions.”

Bell said once private hospitality suites at Doomben had been refurbished the track was more than capable of holding extra feature race meetings.

“In the end if the Stradbroke is run at Doomben the world won’t end,” he said.

“We will still look back on it as a great feature race in 20 years time.”