LADIES and gents get ready to place your bets on the Nicole Kidman Cup at Bowen’s Ben Bolt Park.
Hollywood is coming to Tomato Central and they’re going to the races.
The gala race day, expected to be held over the May Day long weekend, is expected to attract movie stars Nicole Kidman, Bryan Brown, Jack Thompson and Hugh Jackman. The quartet of moviedom royalty will be in Bowen filming the Baz Luhrmann epic, Australia.
Mayor Mike Brunker and and Bowen Turf Club vice-president Cyril Vains are quietly preparing for what they are sure will be the biggest racing event in Bowen’s history.
Paul Brennan from Queensland Racing Ltd told the Townsville Bulletin yesterday that the race day was ’99 per cent’ certain to happen.
Bowen is already allocated four race meetings a year, but needs the green light from Queensland Racing to run what a fifth to coincide with the six weeks of filming scheduled to start on April 29.
Both Mr Vains who came up with the idea of the Nicole Kidman Cup and Cr Brunker have only one concern if it goes ahead and that is ticketing.
“We want to make sure that local people from Bowen and Collinsville can get tickets, but there are going to be a lot of people from Mackay to the south and Townsville to the north who will want to come,” Cr Brunker said.
Both Cr Brunker and Mr Vains said that if the race meeting did go ahead as planned tickets may have to be pre-sold in order to keep some sort of cap on numbers.
Mr Vains said the turf club accommodates about 3000 people at its biggest race of the year, the Bowen Cup.
He thinks that by moving fences and making more space available, the grounds could be extended enough to hold 5000 racegoers, but was doubtful 6000 could be accommodated.
“I think we’ll probably end up turning people away,” Mr Vains said.
Cr Brunker hopes that either Nicole Kidman or Hugh Jackman will judge Fashions on the Field and that Ms Kidman will be on hand to present the owner of the winning horse with the cup.
“Obviously we have to work around Baz Luhrmann’s shooting schedule, but Baz has said the stars would undertake some meet and greet activities while they were in Bowen,” he said.
Mr Brennan confirmed that Queensland Racing had received submissions from both the Bowen Shire Council and the Bowen Turf Club and that all ‘feedback’ from industry and sponsors about the race day was positive.