Ipswich racetrack's drainage issues need to be understood properly.
Ipswich racetrack's drainage issues need to be understood properly. Claudia Baxter

'Racing Qld don't know Ipswich track'


ANOTHER Ipswich Turf Club race meeting was lost last week as the scheduled Metropolitan Wednesday program was transferred in its entirety to the BRC track Doomben.

While stakeholders were disaffected due to the early transfer on the day prior, the reputation of Racing Queensland and the ITC took another battering. It was the third time in a month that an Ipswich race meeting was affected by postponement, abandonment due to rainfall, or transfer to another track.

The abandoned Friday meeting two weeks ago was simply due to the lack of drainage that is the Ipswich racetrack. The transferred meeting last week was however linked to the outcomes of the previously postponed and abandoned meetings.

Relatively recently appointed Racing Queensland operational staff do not have the knowledge of the history of the unique ITC track.

In attempting to assist with remediation of the course following the latest refurbishment a month ago, the ITC received directions which effectively resulted in the transfer of last week's meeting.

In mid-February, the latest of a series of refurbishments of the ITC track occurred. The aims of these refurbishments are to increase turf root zone and bring back a degree of cushion to the racing surface, through heavy aerating and spreading of sand.

The equipment and materials for this project have been supplied by Racing Queensland.

Great success has been achieved over the past 18 months in terms of increased turf root zone and improving cushion in the track, despite the track surface taking several weeks to fully consolidate after each refurb.

In hindsight the ITC erred in completing this refurbishment too close to a race day on February 22. The postponement of that meeting to the following Monday was the right move with the rail moved back to true where the refurbishment was completed earlier.

The problem that followed was a series of directions from RQ to cease irrigation and aeration of parts of the track which suffered over the next few weeks in temperatures as high as 41 degrees.

The RQ direction that followed was to place turf plugs in affected areas and it was these unconsolidated plugs that were correctly deemed by QRIC as unsafe for racing last week. Hence the meeting was transferred to Doomben.

This series of events occurred just prior to a break of 16 days until the next programmed ITC race meeting on March 29 - just about enough time to revert to the ITC maintenance program, and to allow restoration of the track near to where it was in mid-February.

It was just a month ago that the industry was applauding the Ipswich track as among the best surfaces in Queensland - albeit with poor drainage.

However, a hot dry summer had all forgetting about the impact of rainfall on the Ipswich track on the morning of a race meeting.

One highly positive point to come out of the past month is a pledge by RQ to work with the ITC in coming up with a future solution to the drainage problems which have beset the Bundamba surface for 130 years.

Such a solution would be costly and necessitate months off from racing and the analysis has already commenced.

The radio TAB interview with ITC chairman Wayne Patch last week clearly described this situation and is well worth a listen.

Strong Ipswich Cup interest

DESPITE the issues with the track over the past month, there is as usual great interest from the Community of Ipswich in the Ipswich Cup on June 15.

Private marquees on the grandstand side have been basically sold out while infield private marquees are in strong demand as well.

Plentiful online tickets remain available for the Infield Festival, Hometurn Premium Marquee, Pimms Lawn Party, and Lazy Yak Museum Precinct as punters start working out their favoured spot for the social event of the year for the city.

Next meetings

The next programmed Ipswich race meeting is the last for the month on Friday, March 29.

Next month's racing commences on Thursday, April 4, followed by three Wednesday meetings on April 10, 17 and 24.