CAN'T BE SPLIT: More Than Due and Honour Promise strode over the line in a dead heat in Race 3 at Ipswich on Friday.
CAN'T BE SPLIT: More Than Due and Honour Promise strode over the line in a dead heat in Race 3 at Ipswich on Friday. Cordell Richardson

Cup cancellation fears cleared up: 'It's definitely on'

AT THE latest Ipswich race meeting on Friday there was a rare event with a dead heat for first in the third race of the day as heads were being scratched to remember the last such result.

The dead heaters were More Than Due for trainer Natalie McCall and jockey Dan Griffin, and Honour Promise for Paul Jenkins and Mark Du Plessis.

Later in the day jockey Ryan Maloney rode a winning double including the smart galloper Conquer the Stars for Eagle Farm trainer Craig Cousins. To complete the popular daily treble there were also impressive wins by other Eagle Farm gallopers Jet Train for Kelly Schweida and Drumadoir for Lorraine Erhart.

Ipswich Cup definitely on

Following a number of questions around the track and indeed the City of Ipswich regarding the Ipswich Cup, this is a reassurance that the famous day will proceed as it has done for over 150 years.

What is uncertain is at what stage of construction the new facilities will be at come June 15, when the time honoured social event of the year will be contested at the Ipswich Racecourse.

In early August 2018, publicly documented promises were made by RQ - the managers of the infrastructure project - for entire completion of the new facility by end of May 2019.

However, and although there is no specific timing from RQ, it now appears the only definite is the forecourt inside the main gate, along with possibly the new Eye Liner lounge roof, to be completed by Cup time.

Construction will continue throughout 2019 with no impact on the running of the Ipswich Cup, despite a reduction in marquee space on the Grandstand side, so expect positions to be allocated quickly.

The course proper is not impacted by the construction works, and recent improvements to the track in conjunction with RQ will continue over the next couple of years.

On Cup day, there will be public spaces around the forecourt, below the Viewing Terrace, and on top of the entire Viewing Terrace area whilst the Eye Liner Lounge will for the last time be for members, owners, and trainers as in the past. Full package announcements and ticket sale details will be available in the coming weeks.

Peculiar innovation for Racing Qld

Following a number of questions from patrons at the races in relation to the recent Racing Queensland (RQ) Trackwalker innovation, the following explanation is not meant to criticise any individual or body, rather to merely explain the facts as questioned by patrons.

In an email sent to the Industry by RQ on the night of December 28 just hours prior to commencement, RQ stated the Trackwalker role was to "walk the track on race morning and provide feedback to assist the track manager in their official track rating”.

The peculiar part of this innovation is that there is a very clear process on rating tracks and providing track information between the Club and the body responsible for integrity and disbursement of information to the Racing Industry - the Queensland Racing Integrity Commission (QRIC).

This process which has been in place and refined over years, involves communication between Clubs (including ITC) and QRIC in the lead up to, on the morning of, and during the day of the race meeting.

Even more peculiar was the person nominated in the email - former Chief Steward Mr Allan Reardon. This is particularly odd given that Mr Reardon strongly, and publicly, criticised QRIC from the ITC on Ipswich Cup Day without knowledge of the ITC, as Mr Reardon was stepping down from his role.

The ITC on January 2 raised the question with RQ of possible confusion and inconsistencies with a third party involved in track ratings at Ipswich, whilst also noting that the Club Track Staff are much more knowledgeable and better qualified than any other third party to discuss and determine the state of the track.

No more was heard by the ITC from RQ until a phone call last Thursday afternoon January 17, hours prior to Friday's race meeting. It was agreed during that phone conversation that there would be no Trackwalker at Ipswich until discussion and consultation had been had over the role.

However, early on Friday morning Mr Reardon showed up at the ITC unbeknownst to the Club, and against the express agreement with the Club, creating a deal of confusion - all in all, quite a peculiar state of affairs.

Next Race Meetings

Ipswich Racing continues this Thursday 24th, and then Wednesday January 30. The first February meeting is the Member's Day on Wednesday 6th.