Jubilant post-race celebration

IT wasn't the prized Ipswich Cup. It wasn't even the hotly-contested City of Ipswich Eye Liner Stakes.

But the raw emotion at the Ipswich Turf Club on Saturday was worthy of any major success.

The jubilant post-race victory celebration of the Club Pine syndicate after the last race at Bundamba highlighted why Ipswich Cup Day is so memorable each year.

Jockey Larry Cassidy's race eight win on outsider Diet was savoured in the ITC enclosure with hugs, cheers and roars of delight.

Cassidy was smothered in affection and lifted off the ground by a group of owners after Diet, paying $17.80 the win, upset the more fancied runners.

It was a fitting finale to another sensational Ipswich Cup meeting.

Although hoop Eddie Wilkinson tasted Ipswich Cup victory for the first time on Shenzhou Steeds and Chris Munce celebrated another milestone in winning the Eye Liner Stakes (on Belltone), there was something special about Diet's triumph.

It typified what it means to be part of Ipswich's premier race day.

Thousands of people again supported the packed program, maintaining the city's reputation for putting on the best race party in Queensland.

While many people in the impressive infield marquees socialised rather than watching the horses, it was another occasion Ipswich can be proud of.

In these tough times, people deserve a day out to relax.

The big crowd again featured Ipswich's leading sportspeople, many who played on a chilly Friday night so they could attend the Cup.

Former Ipswich Jets coach and NSW league legend Tom Raudonikis made an appearance, as did Socceroos utility player Neil Kilkenny. The international footballer enjoyed a few bets, almost anonymously, mixing with a closeknit group of Ipswich friends.

On the racetrack, favourites dominated, making it harder to find a roughie than for many well-dressed women to keep their high heels on after a fast-paced day of celebrating.

But that's the Ipswich Cup.

Racecaller Alan Thomas yesterday rated our premier meeting another huge success during his regular segment on Sky's Racing Retro.

"It's different," Thomas said of the Ipswich Cup meeting. "It has a half metro, half country sort of atmosphere to it. It's got a nice little niche towards the end of the (winter racing) carnival."

Thomas is right. Ipswich is different for all the right reasons.

What the Ipswich Turf Club committee and staff continue to deliver is a first-class, feel-good race meeting that appeals to the masses.

And with that civic pride and support is an opportunity to enjoy something special.

Just like the Club Pine syndicate did with their "diet" of Cup euphoria.

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