Eliot Forbes announced his resignation today. Picture Tara Croser
Eliot Forbes announced his resignation today. Picture Tara Croser

Racing Queensland boss resigns

THE Eagle Farm track debacle has claimed its first big scalp, with Racing Queensland this morning announcing the resignation of its CEO Dr Eliot Forbes.

Speculation on the future of Dr Forbes and the Racing Queensland board heightened last week after Racing Minister Stirling Hinchliffe launched a scathing attack on its handling of the Eagle Farm rebuild. He renewed that attack in parliament this morning.

Dr Forbes was an absentee from the marquee QTIS Jewel meeting at the Gold Coast on Saturday and also did not attend the record-breaking Magic Millions March Sale on Monday and Tuesday.

Eagle Farm was closed in May last year after widespread criticism of the surface after less than 12 months racing on a track that was originally closed in August 2014.

Racing Queensland took control of the rebuild last year and the project has been dogged by delays, rumours of the grass not taking and infighting with the Brisbane Racing Club and contractors.

Earlier this month, superintendents Dalton Consultant Engineering walked away from the rebuild project, citing a difference in "methodology" to those being adopted by RQ.

Off the back of their resignation, Hinchliffe put the writing on the wall when he said he had "run out of patience" with the project and "if that means changes at RQ, then get on with it and make those changes."

Originally, a return to racing at Eagle Farm had been planned for April this year, but as of today, there is still a 700m section of track yet to be turfed and the earliest possible return is now considered to be December.

RQ Chairman Steve Wilson thanked Dr Forbes for his dedicated service and acknowledged his role in the substantial progress made at Racing Queensland during the past two years.

"Dr Forbes led a significant turnaround for racing in this state which provides a base for further growth. He goes with our very best wishes for the future," he said.

The highlight of Forbes' tenure was persuading the state government to fund Country Racing, a $70 million policy that was announced in the lead-up to last year's state election.

Forbes began his Racing Queensland position in mid 2016.