Jockey Michael Hellyer pats Priest's Road in the Ipswich Turf Club winner's lane.
Jockey Michael Hellyer pats Priest's Road in the Ipswich Turf Club winner's lane. David Nielsen

Historic Ipswich race change popular

FRIDAY'S race meeting at Ipswich was a first ever - a predominantly morning meeting as the bulk of the race card was completed by midday.

This is saying quite a bit for a city where racing has been in place since 1859.

The decision to go with such an early start was made by Racing Queensland officials two days prior to the meeting based on the weather forecast.

A predicted rise in temperature to 41 degrees at 3-3.30pm resulted in the kicking in of the RQ Animal Welfare Policy. This was also the case at the Ipswich greyhound meeting conducted on Friday night.

While the greyhound meeting was pushed back to a 7pm start given the lighting availability at the Ipswich Showgrounds, the thoroughbred meeting at Bundamba was brought forward to a 10am start.

This decision was made based on the Bureau of Meteorology forecast of temperatures rising through the day to the maximum at around 3pm.

With such a forecast in place, the options to Racing Queensland were to abandon the meeting, transfer the meeting to another day, or to conduct the meeting as early as possible in the day. This latter option was chosen with the objectives of animal welfare and keeping the race meeting in mind.

While this decision had downsides including poor wagering turnover and inconvenience for patrons, ensuring that the meeting was conducted from an industry point of view and the welfare of the gallopers were the determining factors.

The day went off without a hitch. A number of patrons enjoyed the unusually extended day as their functions started at an earlier time and were com- pleted at the normal 5pm.

On a day of average winning odds of $6 with no favourites winning, licensees and patrons were grateful for the meeting going ahead, albeit at such an early time.

Jockey Jim Byrne collected the first winner of the day to draw level again with Robbie Fradd in the Ipswich Jockeys Premiership.

Brisbane jockey Michael Hellyer collected another Ipswich win aboard Priest's Road.

Festive season at track

HUNDREDS of people are planning to enjoy a festive day at the races over the next few weeks leading up to Christmas.

With a thousand individuals booked in over the December Fridays for functions, the ITC is keeping a close eye on weather predictions hoping that last Friday's weather interruption will be the only one throughout the month.

When the weather is fine there is no better Christmas breakup around Ipswich other than to spend a day trackside as proven by the many bookings for December.

Final Group one

THE Darren Weir trained Stratum Star took out the final Australian Group 1 of the year at Ascot in Perth on Saturday in the Kingston Town Classic.

Australian Group 1 racing returns in February in Melbourne.

Next meeting

Ipswich racing continues on Wednesday. This is the only non-Friday date for the remainder of the year.

Commencing December 16, there are four consecutive Friday meetings through the festive period prior to a rare Saturday meeting on January 14.

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