TREASURE TROVE: Ipswich Turf Club general manager Brett Kitching admires one of his favourite pieces in the newly opened Ipswich Racing Museum.
TREASURE TROVE: Ipswich Turf Club general manager Brett Kitching admires one of his favourite pieces in the newly opened Ipswich Racing Museum. David Lems

Preserving our most precious memories

RACING: History-loving Ipswich Turf Club general manager Brett Kitching may have been overseas for today's Ipswich Racing Museum opening.

However, he was surely pondering what was happening in Ipswich as the new museum was officially opened by Racing Queensland CEO Brendan Parnell.

Kitching is among the turf club staff delighted with the move to preserve some of Australia's most important racing history.

The building that houses the museum was to be knocked down in the original plans for the Ipswich Turf Club's massive $13 milllion redevelopment.

However, in October, the decision was made to make better use of the old tote building dating back to the 1950s.

The building had been used mainly for storage over the past 20 years.

"Because we're going into the new world and an exciting new future (with the redevelopment), it would be nice to keep a memory of the past of Ipswich racing,'' Kitching said.

"There's a lot of great memories of this place.''

The museum includes memorabilia and framed words outlining club history by decades, starting in the 1840s in the first known racing day in Ipswich.

Great horses like 1861 Australian Champion Sweepstakes winner Zoe are featured, along with former Ipswich Cup winners and tributes to Eye Liner and Tulloch, who had an exhibition gallop in 1960.

The Queensland Times articles from the past are included in the display.

Turf club staff like Claire Power have made valuable contributions to preparing the historic information.

The building at Bundamba has 75 square metres inside and the same outside area covered by an awning.

It was renovated with a $20,000 investment, work by Ipswich Turf Club staff and help from Racing Queensland.

"It will be an extra function facility for us going forward,'' Kitching said, before heading overseas with ITC chairman Wayne Patch for the Asian Racing Conference in Seoul.

The club has already used the refurbished building for pre-wedding drinks, photos and other activities.

On Ipswich Cup Day on June 16, Carlton United Breweries have booked the museum and bar for their after party.

During Ipswich Cup day, the general public can browse over the contents.

"It's a great little place to have a board meeting,'' Kitching said. "When the new events centre is in place, it will be a perfect place for a pre-drinks wedding reception.''

The building also houses an original 1950 tote machine and a bookies board, along with jockey scales from 1960s.

Panels have been left for future expansion of new items.

"It's a lasting tribute to Ipswich racing traditions,'' Kitching said, highlighting the museum's value to the city.

"It's the contribution that racing has made to the community of Ipswich and still does now.

"Way back then the importance of racing to the community and the whole society of Ipswich really is enormous.''

He said with modern new facilities coming for patrons, officials and jockeys, the museum will have a valuable future role.

"It's a way to retain the memory of what has transpired over 170 years,'' the racing enthusiast and sports his-tory buff said.

"We're really thrilled and proud.''

Zoe something special

RACING fanatic Brett Kitching only had to think for a few seconds before nominating his favourite piece of memorabilia in the Ipswich Racing Museum.

"I still think you can't go past Zoe, that won the 1861 Australian Champion Sweepstakes worth more money than the first Melbourne Cup of that year,'' he said. "And on the back of that win, she became the Australian Horse of the Year.

"To put it in context, Winx has been the Australian horse of the year the last three years.

"In 1861, the racing in Ipswich was probably the most important racing in Australia, right across the country. It's pretty hard to go past that really.''