Cricket legend unveils Queensland’s newest harness race

Queensland sporting great Matthew Hayden will lend his name to Queensland’s newest slot race.

The Hayden – named after Kingaroy’s own Matthew Hayden – will act as Racing Queensland’s qualifying race to determine its slot holder into the inaugural $2.1 million The TAB Eureka at Club Menangle on September 2, 2023.

The race will be run exclusively for three and four-year-old QBRED horses over 2138 metres at Albion Park on Saturday, July 15.

Widely regarded as Australian cricket’s greatest ever opener, Mathew Hayden was one of the game’s most electrifying batsmen, representing his country more than 270 times across the three international formats.

Hayden was made a Member of the Order of Australia in 2010, as well as being inducted into the Queensland Sport Hall of Fame in 2014 and the Australian Cricket Hall of Fame in 2017.

The Hayden will take its place in the 2023 Queensland Constellations Carnival, run as a part of RQ’s NAIDOC celebrations, playing a small but critical role in the Queensland racing industry’s journey towards reconciliation.

RQ will partner with ‘The Hayden Way’ to generate funds for Shoreline, which has provided education and employment opportunities for Indigenous students since 2009.

Racing Minister Grace Grace said it was fantastic to have the cricketing legend on board to partner with Queensland’s newest harness race.

“It just makes sense that a Queensland legend like Matthew has lent his name to an unashamedly all-Queensland affair in The Hayden,” Ms Grace said.

‘This race will be restricted to QBRED-only horses, both trained and driven by local participants.

“Just as importantly, The Hayden will make a real difference to the lives of Indigenous students through its vital partnership with Shoreline.”

Founded on the Tiwi Islands, more than 300 students have participated in Shoreline programs over the past decade, igniting and inspiring positive change and self-determination for young Indigenous Australians.

With the winner of The Hayden advancing to The Eureka, RQ has committed 10% of all prize money from The Eureka to Shoreline to assist in funding its educational programs.

Matthew Hayden said his lifelong passion for racing played a key role in being involved with the innovative concept.

“I’m exceptionally proud and honoured to be associated with racing in Queensland, and I am humbled that The Hayden will pay tribute to our family,” he said.

“The Hayden provides a unique launching pad for a Queenslander to shine on the world stage as a part of the $2.1 million The Eureka, and it is a fitting involvement for me as a proud Queenslander.

“Importantly, it provides Shoreline with a brilliant concept to partner with Racing Queensland with proceeds funding education and employment opportunities for Indigenous students.”

Further, Shoreline Managing Director Jason Ryan said he was proud to see the racing industry partner with the award-winning initiative.

“Shoreline is excited to be given the opportunity to partner with Queensland Racing in the inaugural Hayden and Eureka events,” Mr Ryan said.

“Funds raised will directly go back into local communities to continue the development of long-term career pathways for young First Nations students.” 

Matthew Elkins, Matthew Hayden and Brendan Parnell in front of the Matthew Hayden Stand at Allan Border Field.

As a part of the inaugural event, an innovative slot auction will take place on March 12, with each of the 10 barriers up for grabs, which will in turn form a part of the race’s funding.

The auction will be run as part of annual Sunshine Stars Yearling Sale at the Magic Millions complex on the Gold Coast, with aspiring slot holders having the opportunity to secure their preferred barrier before they then turn their efforts to selecting a horse.

The Hayden will be run for $100,000 in stakes, with proceeds from the slot auction to contribute further to the prize money pool.

RQ CEO Brendan Parnell said that partnering with the cricket icon and Shoreline was an easy decision for all involved.

“Named after one of Australia’s greatest ever Test batsmen, The Hayden honours a much loved and highly regarded Queenslander, who is known for his grit, determination and strength,” Mr Parnell said.

“Epitomising Matthew’s staunch maroon pride, The Hayden will be a race for QBRED-only pacers, run during the highly successful Queensland Constellations, ensuring strategic alignment with the fundamental race conditions of The Eureka. 

“As a strong supporter of harness racing, utilising Matthew Hayden as the hero of Queensland’s proposal will resonate with those outside of the sport, as well as creating widespread interest in The Hayden and The TAB Eureka.”

In October, Racing Queensland was announced as one of 10 inaugural slot holders in the world’s richest harness race, ensuring a Sunshine State star will represent Queensland in the new $2.1 million feature for the next three years.

The 2400-metre race, set to be run at Club Menangle for the first time later this year, is restricted to Australian-born three and four-year-old pacers.

Click here for more information on The Hayden. 

By Racing Queensland