Strange sensation without our Ipswich Cup
IT was very different for many in Ipswich waking up on June 13 thinking about all things other than Ipswich Cup Day.
Ipswich's premier race day has been the focus for the past 18 years on the second Saturday in June.
In 2002, the Ipswich Cup moved to that date from the previous July slot. The loss this year of the Ipswich Cup has been the first such loss since the Second World War three quarters of a century ago.
The coronavirus pandemic has wreaked havoc in many areas of sports, businesses, education, economics and general ways of life.
After having celebrated the 150th anniversary of the oldest known Ipswich Cup just four years ago, there was no indication of what was coming in 2020, until March that is when the pandemic was announced.
There was no indication either of what was then to come in relation to racing.
The sport has managed to create a niche for a few months as other mainstream sports around the world ceased, thereby seeing significant popularity and wagering increases with little other option around for punters.
The Racing Queensland Control Body has performed well during this time, as has all racing administrative bodies around the nation, in doing all possible to continue racing for the extensive social, economic, and employment benefits.
The Ipswich Turf Club was in mid-March the first Queensland club to take the move in this regard, deciding that the Ipswich Cup would be run without patrons to signal the huge importance of doing what was needed to continue the sport.
Racing Queensland then reduced prize money significantly, wiped the entire Winter Carnival, and created racing zones to protect racing further from possible COVID outbreaks.
Since this time, the zones have been merged, and elements of the Winter Carnival returned at much lower prize money levels, as the pandemic restrictions are slowly being reduced.
All of these moves have been well thought out allowing continued racing throughout a difficult time.
Great example of co-operation
AFTER shortening the distance in two races at Ipswich from 1666 to 1350 metres at the last race meeting on Sunday June 7, there followed a fine example of industry wide co-operation to solve the problems associated with the shortening of those races.
The two problems were the area at the 1150 deemed unsatisfactory by jockeys; and secondly that this issue was raised on race day, resulting in participant issues especially with the 10 additional scratchings, and reduced wagering turnover - the lifeblood of the sport.
Throughout the week there were several visits to the track by three Racing Queensland operational staff, two jockeys being Jim Byrne and Jake Bayliss, stewards, and of course ITC staff.
Works were performed by ITC staff to block patch the area prior to the visit by Jim Byrne, and then to subsequently plug additional areas.
The visit by QRIC stewards, RQ operations, and jockey Jake Bayliss followed last Friday with all in agreement while conversing with Jim Byrne by Facetime, that the works had been successful and the track was fully suitable for racing on Wednesday 17th.
This process solved the two problems and ensured there was sign off from all parties prior to the acceptances for the race day which includes two 1666 metre races, showing impressive communication and co-operation between a number of different stakeholders.
IPSWICH has scheduled racing on Wednesday then June 24 to complete racing this month. The July program has Fridays 3rd and 10th, then Metropolitan Saturday 18th, prior to Friday 24th and Thursday 30th.