In total, almost $274 million of turnover was recorded throughout the Winter Carnival – a three per cent increase on last year – despite encountering heavy tracks at the Gold Coast and Sunshine Coast meetings and a reduction in generosities from Wagering Service Providers.
Across the final two months of the carnival, a record-breaking $16.3 million in prize money was distributed thanks to an 11% increase.
With Channel 7 broadcasting four marquee meetings across the nation, the combined metropolitan and regional audience on free-to-air and Sky Racing was close to 2.6 million viewers and was internationally exported to 60 countries.
This included a record reach of 454,000 on TAB Stradbroke Handicap Day, while the Kingsford-Smith Cup recorded a reach of more than 320,000 viewers.
Among the Winter Carnival meeting highlights were:
- Wagering turnover increased by $8.5 million to $273.8 million;
- Wagering revenue grew by 14%;
- TAB Stradbroke Handicap meeting turnover increased by 13% to $47.5 million; and
- Kingsford-Smith Cup meeting turnover grew 11% to $37.4 million.
As a result, the Winter Carnival contributed to new records for Queensland racing's annual turnover ($4.3 billion) across all codes – a rise of $217 million - while tri-code payments to participants incorporating prize money, breeder schemes, jockey/driver fees and race club subsidies also broke through the $200 million threshold for the first time.
RQ's full financial performance will be published within the 2018/19 Annual Report later this year.
"Racing Queensland's desire to bolster our Winter Racing carnival has certainly paid dividends," RQ CEO Brendan Parnell said.
"The return to racing at Eagle Farm has assisted with this – as we saw on Stradbroke Day - but there are a range of other factors that have been telling.
"The Kingsford-Smith Cup meeting has emerged as Queensland's third biggest wagering day behind the Magic Millions and Stradbroke Day.
"Twilight racing also continues to perform strongly with the Glasshouse Handicap raising the all-time wagering result for a race at the Sunshine Coast Turf Club."
Having been rated 26th amongst the world's top-100 Group 1 races in 2018, the Doomben 10,000 lived up to its billing as one of Australia's premier sprint races, with turnover increasing to $32.2 million to make it the third biggest wagering meeting of the Carnival.
Through the turnstiles, more than 70,000 people were in attendance with the Ipswich Cup, Stradbroke Day and Kingsford-Smith Cup filling the top-three most popular race meetings.
They were closely followed by Tatts Tiara Day, which featured the TAB Battle of the Bush, which grew by more than 20% to continue its position as one of the most popular days on the Queensland racing calendar.
"The Battle of the Bush continues to go from strength-to-strength and has quickly become one of the highlights of the Carnival," Mr Parnell said.