The main attraction, the Ipswich Cup, gets under way at the Ipswich Turf Club on Saturday.
The main attraction, the Ipswich Cup, gets under way at the Ipswich Turf Club on Saturday. Sarah Harvey

A big and beautiful day

MORE than 20,000 people saw Shenzou Steeds take out the Ipswich Cup at the city's biggest party.

More than 11,000 watched the races from private marquees, with 6000 watching from the infield, according to the Ipswich Turf Club on Saturday.

New Zealand-reared Shenzou Steeds was ridden to victory in the Cup by jockey Eddie Wilkinson.

The track was marred by tragedy in race five when horse Viva Las suffered a heart attack on the home stretch in front of the crowd.

Viva Las' jockey Larry Cassidy was lucky to escape injury when the horse collapsed 100m from the finish line.

Club general manager Brett Kitching said the day had been one of the club's most successful.

"We didn't break the record, but we're just rapt with the turnout," he said.

"You'd take that number every day forever.

"We put a lot of work into this every year and Ipswich keeps turning up.

"I was completely happy with the day, the weather, the quality of the racing, people's behaviour, the fashions, everything. It was just fantastic."

Mr Kitching said the team of tote operators flown in from Adelaide had loved the day.

"They begged us not to let other operators know about it so they can all come back next year," he said.

Despite rumours of Colin Firth's attendance in the members' stand in the early hours of the event, the actor - in town filming at the North Ipswich QR rail workshops - didn't end up making an appearance at the Cup.

While British star didn't turn up, the 2012 Cup still had an international flair to match the New Zealand-reared horse that won the race.

The day was attended by people from across the planet with British, Irish, Canadian and Americans in the crowd.

On the other hand, members of the Ipswich Thistle Pipe Band wearing kilts weren't necessarily from Scotland, and people wearing American sporting team merchandise weren't necessarily from Boston.

Ipswich put on a spectacular day for the Cup with clear skies and warm temperatures.

Despite the crowds, Ipswich police said race patrons had been well behaved, with only minor incidents occurring throughout the day and into the night.