It was viewed as a revolutionary move that some might have even described as daring.

But the decision last year of Racing Queensland to turn Toowoomba’s legendary Weetwood race day into a Clifford Park ‘Spring spectacular’ has found early success.

The Weetwood’s gradual transition from an Autumn midweek meeting, to a Saturday stand-alone Spring event struck instant paydirt last year with the inaugural COVID-affected meeting, winning broad approval.

Racing Queensland’s decision, in unison with Toowoomba Turf Club, to align the race day with the Garden City’s iconic Carnival Of Flowers, produced promising first-up wagering figures and a strong platform from which racing and tourism can build from.

Racing Queensland Chief Executive Officer Brendan Parnell said Toowoomba’s Spring racing concept is the result of a strategic review of carnival racing throughout the state.

Parnell is familiar with Toowoomba’s racing history. He spent five years working in Toowoomba media after studying journalism at what is now USQ.

His Vision TV (WIN) cadetship under mentor Pat O’Shea included Clifford Park racing coverage, and few are more aware of the changing face of racing, including Toowoomba, than Parnell.

“Relocating the Weetwood to the Saturday after the Carnival floral parade is about helping develop a Spring racing concept.

“That will include the Queensland Cup at Eagle Farm two weeks later.

This year’s multiple Clifford Park feature day includes the $150,000 Audi Centre Toowoomba Weetwood Handicap, TAB Toowoomba Cup, Magic Millions Garden City Guineas and Toowoomba Truck Spares Pat O’Shea QTIS Two-Year-Old Plate.

“The new Garden City Guineas, with the backing of Magic Millions, is another welcome addition to this year’s Weetwood day.

“And the Pat O’Shea Plate being the state’s first two-year-old race of the season is a timely fit coinciding with the start of the breeding season in the region’s thoroughbred nursery.”

Parnell said he’d heard some interesting names were being put forward as likely Weetood runners this year, and he expects turnover on the meeting to build on its solid numbers from last year.

“Racing Queensland’s Clifford Park course upgrades in partnership with TAB have helped provide Clifford Park with enhanced facilities for patrons and the club has an exciting week of events planned.

“We aim to see the Spring Weetwood race day as a big event complimenting Toowoomba’s biggest event in the Carnival of Flowers,” Parnell said.

By Glen McCullough