THE Ipswich Turf Club committee has attracted national attention for the city through record-breaking Ipswich Cup meetings over the years.
However, two race meetings over the Labour Day long weekend are putting a positive new spotlight on Ipswich, away from the city's social day of the year.
More than 500 nominations for Ipswich meetings tomorrow and on Monday have created 10-race cards for both days at Bundamba.
"I asked the programmers down at Racing Queensland," delighted Ipswich Turf Club general manager Brett Kitching said. "They can't remember the last 10-race card anywhere in Queensland. And we've got two in three days. It's resounding (support) from the South East Queensland trainers for racing in Ipswich."
Loyal Ipswichian Kitching said having two 10-race cards had far wider significance for the city.
Tomorrow's program helps put more focus on the Ipswich Festival, featuring a $45,000 Cup race over 1666m at 3.35pm.
Tomorrow's meeting also includes the annual Ipswich One Mile Gift Raceday where three handicap foot races will be staged on a sand track inside the Ipswich Turf Club gallop track.
The open race, offering $5000 in prizemoney, has attracted some of the best middle distance athletes in the country - see story page 34.
With support from the Queensland Athletics League, Queensland Athletics and Stockland, the annual foot races have grown in quality since 2006.
Tomorrow's meeting has added appeal, being a fundraiser for the St Edmund's College Foundation and being supported by the Ipswich Hospital Foundation and Ipswich City Council. "From the community point of view, we've aimed to be involved with the festival however we can," Kitching said.
"What we've done is put on the Festival Cup and it's been going since 2006. What that does for the Ipswich Festival is to give Australia-wide media television coverage through Sky Channel and the press as well. It's a fundraiser for the College, the foot racing and letting Australia know the Ipswich Festival is on."
Monday's annual Labour Day meeting includes the $150,000 two-year-old plate (1100m), previously won by quality horses as Buffering.
The Labour Day meeting is a free family day, organised by the union movement. "It is the biggest race meeting in Australia on Monday," Kitching said.
Total prizemoney for both race days is more than $450,000.
"That's just astounding really," Kitching said.
Tomorrow's first Ipswich race starts at 10.50am. Fields and form in tomorrow's QT.
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