Racing Queensland has announced prize money for metropolitan thoroughbred meetings will return to pre-COVID levels from August 1.
Despite the majority of prize money levels being maintained during the global pandemic, RQ reduced Saturday metropolitan races from $75,000 to $65,000 upon the implementation of designated racing regions.
Its traditional winter carnivals were also abandoned, with selected features run at significantly reduced prize money levels.
The savings helped facilitate $7.25 million in hardship and carnival compensation payments for Queensland racing clubs, which were forced to endure patron-free meetings from late March.
“The Queensland racing industry has navigated a particularly challenging period,” Racing Minister Stirling Hinchliffe said.
“With restrictions beginning to ease, it is pleasing to see prize money returned to pre-COVID levels.”
Over the past three months, RQ CEO Brendan Parnell confirmed the organisation had programmed an additional 106 thoroughbred races, providing more than $2 million in further prize money payments.
“During this period, our priority was to protect the livelihoods of our 40,000 industry participants,” Mr Parnell said.
“By dividing races, we were able to provide increased opportunities for owners, trainers and jockeys across the state.
“Whilst our traditional winter carnivals were unable to proceed, we were able to maintain the vast majority of prize money in recent months, including our QTIS and QTISx bonuses, and were able to provide more than $7 million in compensation payments to our clubs.
“We’re mindful that our participants and clubs remain at the heart of racing and it was vital that we supported them during this time.”
RQ is expected to make further programming announcements in the near future.