Ipswich Cup hailed as the top race day in Queensland
ATTENDING his 42nd consecutive Ipswich Cup, Ipswich Turf Club general manager Brett Kitching couldn't find any faults on a particularly bright day.
A bit of unexpected sunburn on a warm Cup day was perhaps the only hitch.
The 20,250 punters that flooded through the gates on Saturday was short of the cup's crowd record of about 24,000 in 2011, but Mr Kitching said it was a tremendous showing in spite of ongoing construction work.
There were a couple of issues surrounding lining up for bars and toilets as people adjusted to the new layout but they were minuscule in the grand scheme of a successful event.
With the famous "pig pen" no more, the biggest adjustment was thousands of general admission ticket holders being shifted to one of the best seats in the house in the viewing terrace on the main straight.
The turf club reported record numbers in the infield of about 4000; double the amount of people they were getting five years ago.
Mr Kitching said it was a proud achievement to hail the Ipswich Cup as the most attended race day in Queensland and due reward for the club, its staff and the city as a whole.
"Over much of the last 30 years you knew what was where," he said.
"Over that time there has been very little change; (on Saturday) there was quite a significant change.
"Wagering is increasing but attendances around the country are in decline. It's very easy to have your bet sitting at home in your lounge room watching the races on TV.
"People don't do it at the track anymore."
He said the Ipswich race day was bucking the trend in Queensland.
"This year the Stradbroke Handicap, which is called Queensland's biggest race, was back at Eagle Farm and had 14,000 people there," he said.
"The last time it was run there five years ago there were well over 20,000 people. That's a good indication of the trends in the industry."
There was extra reason to celebrate over the weekend after Racing Minister Stirling Hinchliffe announced on the eve of the event the original plan for the Bundamba facility's multi-million dollar refurbishment would proceed.
"I think we've got that out of the way now," Mr Kitching said.
"I didn't personally say a whole lot to him (on Saturday). I certainly thanked him for going down that path.
"Now it's sorted we're now thinking how to get on with it and get it cracking.
"It's great news and we've got a bit of certainty. It's been going up in the air.
"The question obviously is what do we have to do to get on with it and finish the project and getting together with Racing Queensland and get on and finish it as soon as we can."
Now is not the time for Mr Kitching, who oversaw his 15th cup as general manager on the weekend, to put his feet up with plenty of work to do in the wake of the event.
Work has to be done to pull everything down and get it off site before another meet next week and the club now looks forward to the redevelopment.
"We're back into (on Monday)," he said.
"There were number of people who have said to us what an amazing effort it was from the city of Ipswich.
"It's quite an effort from everyone. I'm happy and proud.
"The whole Ipswich community that's gone along and partnered with the club have made it what it is."