BIG DAY: Horses round the track in last year's Ipswich Cup. This year the event is expected to be Queensland's most attended raceday.
BIG DAY: Horses round the track in last year's Ipswich Cup. This year the event is expected to be Queensland's most attended raceday. Cordell Richardson

Globally supported Cup is state's most popular

HORSE RACING: The Ipswich Cup is set to overtake the Stradbroke Handicap as the most attended raceday in Queensland.

Some 14,000 racegoers converged on Eagle Farm last weekend for Stradbroke day, which is normally the biggest event held across the state.

With 14,000 tickets pre-sold and all of the packaged areas full, the Ipswich Turf Club is optimistic that the Stradbroke mark will be exceeded comfortably.

Ipswich Turf Club general manager Brett Kitching said the achievement was a feather in the event's cap.

He said the level of support was incredible given the outdated Bundamba Racecourse and it was mind boggling to think what might happen next year when Ipswich receives a brand new facility.

"It is further evidence of the great support shown by the community, and also of the importance of the Ipswich Cup to the community," he said.

"It belongs to the city and has been running for 160 years, and the public keeps supporting year-after-year. Everyone is really excited. Attendance numbers at other race meetings have dropped off but to see ours continually supported is wonderful for the entire Ipswich community."

Kitching also highlighted the economic benefits which flow into other sectors like retail and beauty, which are booming ahead of the highlight of the city's social calendar on Saturday.

He estimated that punters all around the world would wager a total of $20 million on the nine races scheduled.

"While the community of Ipswich is the driving force behind the cup, we are being recognised on an international basis and receiving support from overseas," he said.

"We're going into Europe, North America, South America and Asia. It is our chance to show off Ipswich."

For the first time in the event's history the total prize money exceeds $1 million dollars. It is the most of any race meeting to be held around the country on Saturday.

The huge amounts up for grabs have attracted premier trainers, horses and jockeys from top-line stables all over Australia, New Zealand and even Europe. Nominations are closed and with 186 quality entrants no extension period was required. Fields will be packed, with the acceptances to be finalised this morning by 11.

Betting markets will then open and punters can start checking their form guides and planning their action.

In the last five years, two European horses have been first past the post in the main race. The Channel 7 Ipswich Cup could be headed overseas again, with three European-based nominations, including well-credentialled horses like the Maher and Eustace trained Mask of Time.

Having planned and executed the event many times, organisers know what is required and the set-up is running like a well-oiled machine. The marquees have been erected, the seating is in place and the bars are being filled. All that is left to do is throw on your black tie best, turn up and have a great day at the track.