$40m benefits to outweigh loss of Ipswich identity
HAVING so far negotiated the COVID-19 challenges, Ipswich Greyhound Racing Club (IGRC) president Colin Fry is excited about the future.
He expects the planned move to a $40 million racing facility at Purga to provide massive benefits for the region, despite forgoing some Ipswich traditions.
The Ipswich organisation will become part of a Greater Brisbane Greyhound Club when the relocation is complete.
"Merging with Albion Park will be something different,'' Fry said, having taken over of club president 12 months ago following a stint as IGRC treasurer.
"But people have to realise that you don't get these opportunities very often and we've waited a long, long time for a new track.
"While we might lose our identity a little bit, it will be to the benefit of everyone in racing.
"We're looking forward to having the new set-up.''
While it could be 3-5 years until the industry participants benefit, Fry was encouraged to see a chief contractor being finalised to ignite the long-awaited project.
Although the Ipswich Showgrounds circuit has served the region well, Fry said having two advanced circle circuits and a straight track would better facilitate fast racing.
"The Showgrounds (track) is not really built for purpose, for greyhound racing under today's standards and requirements,'' he said.
"We struggle a little bit to try and maintain certain standards that are required.
"But once the new track comes on board, it will be built to all the latest standard . . . so it will be a bonus for everybody.''
In the meantime, it's business as usual at the Ipswich Showgrounds where greyhound racing has continued through the widespread coronavirus shutdown.
"The pandemic has been a challenge but we're getting through that,'' he said.
"We haven't had any real issues as far as the pandemic goes.
"We had to change a lot of procedures and things we did at the track . . . but we're going okay.''
Fry said COVID-19 measures included temperature checks of everyone coming into the complex, as well as social distancing and new kennel procedures.
"Racing Queensland have been very good,'' he said. "They have really helped us get through the pandemic stage in our preparation.''
Ipswich remains part of a Brisbane zone, along with Albion Park and Capalaba.
Fry hopes the zonal restrictions will ease soon and regular visitors from central Queensland and northern NSW can again share in Ipswich's programming.
However, the club president said event nominations had remained healthy despite those challenges.
Another goal is to have crowds return to watch the dogs race at Ipswich's regular Tuesday, Friday and Saturday meetings.
Among the next major events are the rescheduled, time-honoured Ipswich 520m auction finals in September after the City of Ipswich Gold Cup, also over 520m.
A Young Guns series is also set down for the next few weeks.
Having moved north from Sydney, Fry said he used to buy a lot of dogs and train them before focusing on being an owner in recent years.
He said that's one of the main reasons he still gets a buzz out of greyhound racing.
"There's nothing more exciting than seeing your own dog run,'' Fry said.
"They are athletes and the enjoyment of training is treating them like athletes and getting them to perform to their best.
"It's like coaching a team I guess - one-on-one - sort of thing.
"They are lovely animals.''