Aquis Pulls Out of Queensland Racing

Aquis Farm, the biggest single investor in Queensland racing, has dropped a bombshell tonight, announcing it will cease racing horses in the state until its concerns over integrity are resolved.

It followed a board meeting of AQUIS directors at the conclusion of this week’s Inglis Australian Easter Yearling Sale, where Aquis was among the biggest buyers.

Integrity in Queensland racing, which is administered by the Queensland Racing Integrity Commission, has been under fire for many months.

The unresolved charges against Toowoomba trainer Ben Currie, which date back 12 months, have been central to the discussion.

Aquis has invested heavily in bloodstock across Australia since setting up operations a few short years ago and runs one of the biggest racing teams in Australia.

Many of those horses are based in Queensland, but chief executive Shane McGrath said that will not be the case until change occurs.

Up to 100 of those horses are based in Queensland, but that will not be the case until change occurs after the organization held a board meeting in Sydney on Thursday.

Any horse Aquis owns outright or manages will be scratched and not race in Queensland until “a number of integrity issues concerning Queensland racing are fully resolved to ensure a level playing field for all participants” Aquis said in a statement.

Aquis Farm Chief Executive Shane McGrath said the decision will hurt Aquis more than anyone, but someone had to take a stand.

“We started out in Queensland, our heart beats in Queensland. There’s no one having a bigger go in Queensland than us, but this needs to be fixed,” he said.

“I can tell you no one wanted to do this less than us. But we had to take a stand. We’re not pointing fingers at anyone. It’s the system, the process.”

Aquis was the biggest buyer at this week’s Inglis Australian Easter Yearling Sale in Sydney, spending $8,375,000 on 13 yearlings.

It is a sale that attracts buyers from all over the world and McGrath said commentary from overseas visitors was the catalyst for yesterday’s board meeting.

“European and overseas observers of Australian racing are acutely aware of the positives, but are more acutely aware of the negatives and the integrity issues in Queensland racing is probably a predominant negative on our industry at the moment,” he said.

Where a horse is part-owned by Aquis, but not able to control whether it races or not, it will donate the share of any prizemoney generated by that horse to a nominated charity.

Aquis is the naming rights holder of the Gold Coast Turf Club and also runs a stud farm at Canungra, outside Beaudesert.

Courier Mail

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