By TERRY BUTTS of the NQ REGISTER

BREAKFAST With the Stars, the popular prelude to major racing carnivals in Australia, takes on a new dimension at the Cairns Amateurs in a fortnight.

While the immensely popular concept was designed to allow the rank and file to get up close and personal with the stars (horses included) on racecourses from Flemington to far-flung tracks around the country, the Cairns event this year will be devoid of horses.

That is no surprise really as horses and their handlers have always been backstage at the Cairns Amateurs, which in recent times is more about raving than racing. All fizz, fashion and frivolity – but a great social mardi gras nonetheless – if you are not so serious about the actual racing.

By TERRY BUTTS of the NQ REGISTER

WHILE Queensland and to a lesser degree South Australian racing are on their knees with most of their licensees struggling to survive, foreign-owned corporate bookmaker Sportsbet revenue and customer numbers have far exceeded those of local giant Tabcorp and other competitors in the Australian market.

Sportsbet's underlying operating profit in the six months to June hit $75.7 million, according to a report in the Financial Review last week.

The results also revealed Sportsbet's active customers in Australia rose 13 per cent to 688,000, compared to the 475,000 customers Tabcorp revealed in its full 2017 financial results last week.

Little wonder Sportsbet so strongly opposed the Tabcorp merger with Tatts.

IN the wake of the on-going controversy that has engulfed the redevelopment of Eagle Farm, TERRY BUTTS reports in his ‘SILKS & SADDLES’ column that a cloud also hangs over the upgrade of the Cluden track in Townsville.

Butts writes:

TO many a cloud still hangs over the Eagle Farm track with more questions than answers.

The same in Townsville that also has a $6 million Evergreen track that has deteriorated significantly in the past six months and is about to undergo renovation – again to be funded by Racing Queensland, which obviously accepts some blame for its deterioration in the past six months.

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