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Marburg excited for Constellations carnival debut in 2022

With racing fans right on top of the action, there is not much else like an afternoon at Marburg in the harness code.

Racing followers can take up a prime position on the outside fence, to be just metres away from the standardbred stars and the drivers.

And, not far away, children can enjoy face painting and carnival rides – there is something for everyone at the track, that is based west of Brisbane.

For the first time, Marburg on Sunday will host a Constellations carnival meeting, with the new feature day set to include a number of races that are restricted to Queensland-trained horses.

Karen Schulz has trained her team of pacers at Marburg for many years – as well as helping out on their committee – and summed up the feeling of participants in the local area about being included in the carnival.

“For a little club, it is a big thing,” Schulz said with a massive smile on her face. 

“It is great for us.”

Following the successful 2021 carnival, discussions between club officials, participants and administrators suggested more races for Sunshine State-based trainers were needed in the future.

That was where Marburg found its chance to stand alongside Albion Park and Redcliffe in the feature period of the year.

“It was some feedback following last year’s carnival around how we can improve it and there was feedback from industry about how we could provide opportunities for Queenslander’s,” Racing Queensland’s Senior Harness Racing Manager David Brick said.

“We saw that as a really good opportunity to incorporate the Marburg club.

“It provides a bit of a country element to the carnival as well.

“A lot of the races there will be for Queensland-trained horses.

“I think it is a really important element of our industry, they get a really good crowd there at Marburg and I have no doubt that will be the same this year.”

The club at Marburg has been crucial to the harness industry in Queensland this year, carrying a heavier load than expected following Albion Park’s redevelopment from the devastating floods.

The club is largely driven by volunteers, with an array of participants living within close proximity to the track.

While Marburg is mostly used by smaller stable’s, such as Schulz and Peter McKay, many of the bigger teams in Queensland will often use the facility when their home tracks have been washed out.

According to Schulz, Marburg prides itself on providing a fun and family-friendly atmosphere when it hosts meetings.

“The committee have really gone out of their way to make it a community and family race day,” she said.

“They put on so many free activities for the kids and on our big Easter Sunday meeting they have so many activities for the kids, which will be the same at this upcoming meeting.

“It brings the crowd in as mum and dad can come along and have fun and the kids can do the same in a safe environment.”

One of the key factors of preparing a team of pacers and trotters out of Marburg, according to Schulz, is that the track does not close at a certain time in the morning and horses can be worked for much of the day.

That is beneficial for many hobby trainers who need to juggle work and study commitments with their racing pursuits.

It is not uncommon to see a trainer working a horse in their lunch break or later in the afternoon.

There is a tight-knit community in the area, according to long-time Marburg horseman Peter McKay.

“It is a great little place to race,” McKay said.

“I reckon we get more people here to some of our meetings than Redcliffe and Albion Park do at their ones.

“The club have put a huge amount of time and expense into making it a place where families and come and enjoy the races.”

Rookie harness driver Mitch Cox looks forward to heading to Marburg more than any other track in the Sunshine State.  

“The atmosphere, you can get so close to the track and at most tracks, it is not like that,” Cox said.

“Being right on the fence is great.

“It is a completely different to the atmosphere to other race tracks.”

Fellow reinsman Brendan Barnes also enjoys his experiences at the “unique track at Marburg”.

“It is a great little town, the fence is always packed and they usually get bigger crowds than other clubs,” Barnes said.

“It is a great local community.”

Sunday’s card will see the inaugural running of The Western Star over 2200 metres, which is restricted to horses trained by a Queensland trainer.

By Jordan Gerrans