Cup seals its spot as Queensland's favourite
SATURDAY'S Ipswich Cup again maintained its ranking as Queensland's biggest race meeting of the year.
A total of 20,275 fans packed into the Bundamba racetrack - up on even last year's bumper Cup Day crowd.
Capacity fields, a clear, blue sky - and a reputation for being the state's biggest racetrack party - combined to make the day another resounding success for Ipswich, where horses have been racing since 1860.
The increasing size of the crowd continues to stun Queensland - and Australian - racing officials.
How can a provincial race meeting held at the tail end of the Brisbane winter carnival consistently draw crowds bigger than any other race meeting in the state?
And how is it that when racing attendance figures throughout the country are in dramatic decline, the Ipswich Cup crowd just gets bigger and bigger?
Ipswich Turf Club general manager Brett Kitching said it was no secret: "Just listen to what patrons want at a race day and provide it."
Mr Kitching said a big attraction of the Ipswich Cup was the social experience created on the day, which drew a younger generation of racegoers and kept numbers up.
He said many other clubs didn't bother to set up things such as live musical entertainment.
He said a growing number of patrons who came to the Ipswich Cup each year weren't even interested in the horse racing.
"Some television coverage of the Cup yesterday showed hundreds of people dancing to music at the Corona marquee instead of watching the main racing event.
"So while more traditional race followers might be dropping off, we're doing things to attract a new generation of patrons."
For race day veterans Matt and Deb Quinn though, it's a perfect occasion to sit back on the grass, have a few drinks and enjoy a great day out.
With a blanket spread out in their favourite spot, the Silkstone couple said they had never missed an Ipswich Cup in the past 14 years.
Adding to their enjoyment of the day, Mrs Quinn said she picked the winners of three consecutive races.
She said her betting strategy was to choose the racing colours she liked, then decide based on the horse's most recent form.
That tipping system may not have paid off for the feature race, though. Gold Coast mare Anagold won the Ipswich Cup (2150m), surprising most of the racegoers and paying $41 on the tote.
And in the following event, the Eye Liner Stakes (1350m), South Australian sprinter Conservatorium ended a 20-month losing streak, though his recent form was sound and his win was popular with many punters.
But of all the spectators shouting in earnest as the field charged up the straight in the Ipswich Cup, perhaps the loudest was Nancy Pavlovski.
The centre leader for Jenny Craig in Booval, Ms Pavlovski had drawn Anagold in corporate sweepstakes and stood to win $350.
"I've never had a winner before," she said. "I just come to the Cup for fun and to dress up.
"But this win is great - now I've got more money to spend on the post-race celebrations."
Mr Kitching said he was pleased to see a Queensland horse take home the Ipswich Cup.
- The first races were held in 1860 at the Grange before moving to the site at Bundamba in 1890.
- The Ipswich Cup in its present form has been run at the Ipswich Turf Club since 1934.
- The estimated economic impact from the day on the Ipswich economy according to the Ipswich Turf Club is $5 million, which is spent on accommodation, entertainment, transport, clothing and accessories for the day.
- Racing and Breeding Magazine named the Ipswich Cup in the top 20 meetings in the nation in 2009.