WITH the gates at Flemington about to open, the entire country is poised to cheer on their favourite in the race that stops the nation.
We chatted to Ipswich Turf Club general manager Brett Kitching to get his take on the race that stops Ipswich.
While the annual Ipswich Cup might not be as big as its Melbourne counterpart, there are plenty of ways our region's biggest race day stacks up against the action at Flemington.
1. You get more bang for your buck
THE Ipswich Cup will set you back less than today's race day in Melbourne. According to Mr Kitching, who is checking out the cup in Melbourne today, the average general admission ticket will cost punters about $75, Ipswich Cup entry is $20 at the gate and just $15 if purchased online. A bottle of champagne will set you back about $30 at Flemington while a beer costs about $10. Mr Kitching says drinks at the Ipswich Turf Club are about 25% cheaper. Full racing packages cost about $400 at Melbourne, while a drinks and racing package at the Ipswich Cup will only set you back $150.
2. It's held on a weekend
IT'S great to have the Melbourne Cup consistently on the first Tuesday of November, however the mid-week date doesn't leave too much time for race day recovery - unless you're prepared to get a lot of questions thrown your way about that well-timed sickie. The Ipswich Cup is held on a Saturday, meaning those who have a big day trackside and enjoy a late night at the after party can spend Sunday regaining their energy, rehydrating and getting some much-needed rest.
3. More locals support it
A HIGHER percentage of the local population supports the annual race in Ipswich, says Mr Kitching. "Comparatively, Ipswich has 200,000 people and 10% of them come to the cup," he said. "Melbourne has about 3 million people with about 100,000 of those coming along." According to the Turf Club general manager, 80% of racegoers at the Ipswich Cup come from Ipswich, meaning more locals support the event. The Melbourne Cup has more international and interstate visitors.
4. It's held in winter
INSTEAD of sweating through your suit or having your makeup run down your face in the heat of Australian spring, the Ipswich Cup's June date allows race goers to look great without getting overheated. Plus what can beat the hats, gloves and complex layers of winter racing fashion?
5. Growing prestige
MR KITCHING pointed out that, like Melbourne, the Ipswich Cup gets its' fair share of international horses racing. In fact, international horses from Britain and Ireland have won the Ipswich race for the last two years in a row. "Melbourne Cup is famous for its' international horses, Ipswich is too, although on a smaller scale." The Ipswich Cup celebrated 150 years this year, and is just five years younger than its Melbourne counterpart. The first Ipswich Cup was held in 1866 while the very first Melbourne Cup was held in 1861.