TIGHT RACING: Grinvil, driven by Matt Elkins, wins last Saturday's Oakwood Capital Goldstrike Series heat ahead of Franco Totem, driven by Darrel Graham. The final is being run on Easter Sunday.
TIGHT RACING: Grinvil, driven by Matt Elkins, wins last Saturday's Oakwood Capital Goldstrike Series heat ahead of Franco Totem, driven by Darrel Graham. The final is being run on Easter Sunday. Vic Pascoe

TAB, Sky-backed meeting boost for region

TROTTING: Securing TAB status for their Easter Sunday race meeting is more than just valuable exposure for Marburg and the Marburg Pacing Association.

It's an opportunity to help the sport at grassroots level, especially the battlers who contribute so much to the racing industry.

Those important factors are why MPA president Scott Neaves is hoping to see widespread support for Sunday's program at the Marburg Showgrounds.

Sky Racing is covering the race day, where up to nine events could be scheduled depending on final acceptances overnight.

Neaves said the meeting was effectively a trial with a goal to attract more TAB-backed events at Marburg in the future.

"Essentially we've been told that Racing Queensland is keen to support grassroots racing,'' Neaves said.

"This is a bit, I suppose, of testing the water.''

Neaves said Racing Queensland had been supportive in negotiations with Sky Racing.

"They've also given us a TAB and Sky meeting on the Labour Day holiday (in May), so that's sort of a second test,'' he said.

"And certainly we've been told they are looking for other spots when they are available.''

However, the association president said the first mission was providing a successful trotting meeting on Easter Sunday.

He said having Sky and TAB support would provide a massive boost for racing in the region.

"It should help in terms of getting Marburg known across the country because it will be on Sky Channel as well,'' he said.

Neaves said demonstrating that Sky Channel and TAB coverage was profitable would hopefully help Racing Queensland and the MPA hold more race meetings in the future.

He said an MPA goal was to make that a more permanent arrangement.

Receiving Sky Racing backing is also a reward for the years of hard work MPA committee people have dedicated to their sport, often having to meet difficult challenges.

The feature race on Sunday is the Oakwood Capital Goldstrike Series final, with $25,000 on offer.

Heats were run at last Saturday's Marburg meeting, providing a strong lead-up to the final.

A Consolation final is also being run on Sunday's program.

Neaves, a former driver and trainer and currently an owner, said the 700m Marburg track was in great condition.

"We've recently resurfaced it in preparation so it should be hard, it should be fast,'' he said.

Neaves said that was one of the advantages for drivers racing at the tight Marburg track - giving more opportunities for people who can't always race straight away at bigger venues like Albion Park and Redcliffe.

"The participants seem pretty keen because the racing is a bit unusual in terms of the smaller track,'' he said.

"People feel like there's a bit more hope.

"With slightly lesser quality horses, there are more chances.

"If they get a good draw and a nice run, they can beat some of the better ones.''

Neaves was confident the Easter program would meet the demand of a strong country racing fraternity.

"It's a pretty big cross section of the racing community that will be there on Sunday,'' he said.

Last year's Easter Sunday meeting was hugely successful with a seven-race card, including the Young Drivers Series.

Having major sponsorship backing this year is expected to build on the tireless past efforts of MPA volunteers.

Look out for fields and Denis Smith's Trot Tactics column in Saturday's QT.

Top race day

Easter Sunday trotting meeting at the Marburg Showgrounds. Gates open at 11am with the first race from about midday.

Up to nine races could be programed, with TAB status.

More than $40,000 in prizemoney is being offered.

The feature event is the Oakwood Capital Goldstrike Series with $25,000 in prizemoney.