The Gold Coast Turf Club is delighted with the way it was able to handle one of its most extraordinary days.
Saturday’s Magic Millions meeting was thrown into chaos when an oil tanker overturned on the M1 connecting Brisbane and the Gold Coast.
It meant several key runners, including Magic Millions Guineas favourite and subsequent winner Alligator Blood, needed a police escort to reach the course via an alternate route.
The meeting was delayed by one race to accommodate the late arrivals and also because Champagne Cuddles was taken to a veterinary hospital after her race and officials had to wait for the horse ambulance to return to the track.
The Bjorn Baker-trained mare, the 1200m track record holder at the Gold Coast, was galloped on and has been retired.
The final race of the day was run in near darkness when a storm hit while patrons were leaving the course.
Many Brisbane-based racegoers took three hours to arrive home with the highway closed in both directions and alternate routes congested with traffic.
GCTC chief executive Steve Lines said it was a testing day under extraordinary circumstances.
“We had about 24,000 patrons on course which is the biggest crowd in years. Things ran smoothly for them,” Lines said.
“I think we managed the racing side dramas well. The police were great to get the runners here and the stewards did the right thing in holding up the races.
“Hopefully, we will never get the same set of circumstances again but I think we showed we could handle it.”
The club is hoping its chances of staging its first Group One race will receive another shot in the arm with the likelihood of prize money upgrades for most races on Hollindale Stakes day.
The Group Two Hollindale Stakes will have a stakes increase to $500,000, rising from $358,000 last year.
The increase has been made possible by sponsorships from Aquis and the TAB.
The Gold Coast Turf Club believes extra prize money on the day will help lure more quality runners overall.
There are five other stakes races set for Hollindale Stakes day on May 2 and Racing Queensland and the GCTC hope to be in a position to announce prize money boosts for them soon.
The Hollindale Stakes has been won by outstanding horses such as Rough Habit, Might And Power, Danewin, Shogun Lodge, Scenic Shot and Streama.
The GCTC has been hoping to earn an upgrade to Group One for the Hollindale which is a traditional lead-up to the Doomben Cup.