Ipswich racing back with major changes
AFTER almost half a year since racing was conducted at Bundamba, today's return was a massive way to come back.
More than 200 entries and 151 acceptances resulted in the largest card for years, barring Ipswich Cup Day.
The first winner at the return meeting was Kirra Lass, who is trained by Lindsay Hatch and was ridden by Nathan Fazackerley with a late replacement pick-up ride.
All were in agreement that the track raced beautifully on its return to action.
It was perhaps the first time ever that Ipswich has raced on Easter Monday although as noted previously nothing is off the table in these times of COVID-19.
It would have been impossible to forecast the situation we are faced with back on October 30 last year when the last race meeting at Ipswich was conducted.
There are now no owners allowed to attend race meetings. Only the trainer and strapper of horses racing may attend.
Very little media are allowed at the track with Sky Racing providing broadcast viewing.
Another unexpected change from last year is the rise in popularity and social importance of horse racing.
As virtually the only remaining mainstream sport across the world, punters have flocked to racing in search of a social interest given the restrictions on movement across communities.
In today's high technology world where you don't need to leave your loungeroom to view and bet on racing, the sport has filled a major void for many.
The continuation of the sport has also helped in a large way to maintain a significant slice of employment numbers given the reported 40,000 jobs attached to racing.
Rigid ITC procedures
ANOTHER change to racing at Ipswich during the downtime has been the necessary introduction of rigid procedures to ensure everything possible is done to keep racing clear of the COVID-19 threat.
The procedures included isolation of jockeys from all others, as well as distancing of all with access to the course.
Restricted entry to the course including exclusion of owners and committee members of the club, jockeys exchanging silks and saddles with trainers via a table and over a dividing fence, and trainers not allowed entry to the parade enclosure unless they are the designated horse handler all indicate major changes in the current climate.
Sky interviews are being conducted by remote microphones, and not with jockeys at all. Most stakeholders understand the need for these rigid procedures.
After today's successful Easter Monday return, racing at Ipswich is programmed for the next two Sundays - on April 19 and 26 - before a week off.
The CFMEU Mining and Energy Labour Day Holiday meeting is set down for May 4.
Winter Carnival backflip
IT was somewhat of a backflip by Racing Queensland last week with a surprising Good Friday announcement that there would now be a Winter Carnival - of sorts.
A number of black type races have been reinstalled although zone restrictions remain in place and prize money is dramatically reduced with for example the Stradbroke prize money of $350,000 at less than a quarter of the prize of last year.
The Ipswich listed races of Cup, Eye Liner Stakes, and Gai Waterhouse Fillies and Mares Classic remain out of the carnival with the Gold Coast programmed to race on June 13 - the original date of the Ipswich Cup.
There is then no impact on Ipswich resultant from this partial backflip. However onlookers from the west will be watching closely to ensure the promised subsidising of Ipswich losses from patron free racing materialises.
Blue ribband events
GROUP One racing continued on Saturday for Sydney's biggest day of Autumn Carnival racing and blue ribband race the Queen Elizabeth Stakes, again without crowds.
There were again significant reductions in prizemoney, as traditional heavyweight Group 1 races were again hotly contested.
The AJC Oaks went to Colette, the Sydney Cup to Etah James, the Queen Elizabeth Stakes to Addeybb, and the Coolmore Legacy Stakes to Con Te Partiro. The first and third of these winners were favourite with only Etah James at double figure odds and yet the quadrella paid an exceptional $11,000.
Another interesting interstate meeting was the continuation of Western Australian racing on Good Friday. This recent introduction was a booming success with turnover doubled on last year.