What you can expect at this year's Ipswich Cup
JUDGING by early bumper ticket sales for next month's Ipswich Cup, you wouldn't know that a large section of the Turf Club was off limits to punters.
As work continues on a major construction and refurbishment of the Bundamba facilities, the show goes on in terms of the massive job of preparing for the city's major social and racing event.
The weekend's Ipswich Hospital Foundation race day and yesterday's Labour Day meeting gave thousands of race-goers an opportunity to view the progress made so far.
While Ipswich Turf Club general manager Brett Kitching says that work will be ongoing come Cup Day, the June 15 event was already selling hundreds of tickets across multiple marquees.
"About the only part that will be finished in time for the Ipswich Cup will be the new forecourt, which is about a 20m by 20m area just inside the main gate, where we will have this year's after-party,” Mr Kitching said.
Due to ongoing work in the former general admission area, those who enjoyed the atmosphere of the old Ipswich Cup "Pig Pen” will get an excellent trade-off.
The grassy hill and viewing terraces usually set aside for private functions will be opened up to cater for general admission this year.
The outside track marquees will be relatively unaffected by the construction work, still occupying the same area, however, organisers will bring in more portable toilets to compensate for the demolition of the old toilet block.
The in-field punters will be in for another huge year, with more tickets sold for the track-facing section than last year already.
"It's a bit like what we saw after the floods of 2011,” Mr Kitching said.
"The city just had this big disaster, yet we had the biggest attendance of any cup day.
"When the chips are down, Ipswich people come out in force. They don't want to miss that once-a-year party.”
While a $500,000 project to improve the track has been hailed a success, the jockeys will have to wait a bit longer for their new change rooms at the Bundamba track.
Construction of the new stewards, jockeys, events and function centre with member's lounge and viewing area is still several months from completion.
Jockeys are still using portable buildings at this stage.
"The track is definitely in much better condition than it was five years ago,” Mr Kitching said.
"The aim with that work was to give the track a bit of extra cushioning.”
Mr Kitching said memberships to the Turf Club had also increased this year, in anticipation of the new facilities providing an even better vantage point to enjoy the racing.
In a blow for the Ipswich Turf Club and local racing fans, Racing Queensland this week announced it would no longer proceed with the construction of new tie-up stalls as part of the track redevelopment, citing an unforeseen increase in costs of the project.
The Turf Club is preparing a response to Racing Queensland regarding the announcement.