Ipswich praise on national stage
THE Ipswich racetrack was given many favourable comments from around the country last Thursday while Flemington - the focal venue of the day - continued to be heavily criticised.
For the first time in a couple of decades, there was a corresponding TAB meeting at Ipswich on a Group 1 day of racing. That was Oaks Day at Flemington.
The racing surface at Flemington was under fire across the entire four days of the carnival as there was a clearly evident bias in the track resulting in fast and slow lanes in different areas on each day of the carnival.
On Thursday at Flemington there were a number of patrons heard to be asking why Flemington could not have as good a racing surface as Queensland's Ipswich meeting, which appeared picture perfect on the many television screens across the Flemington course.
Despite a soft surface at Ipswich from recent rain, the track raced well.
Race caller David Fowler was able to pick five winners from the seven races.
The experiment of Ipswich racing on a Group 1 day was a success as turnover on Ubet alone was in excess of $400,000.
The Ipswich course was portrayed in a good light around Australia.
Lost jockey honoured
THE horrible news of the loss of jockey Tim Bell last week came on Wednesday morning leaving all in racing in complete shock.
At 22 years of age, Tim was already among the top few jockeys in Queensland. He was one of the faces of the Racing Queensland marketing campaign for the 2015 Winter Carnival.
Last Thursday, a minute's silence was conducted in his honour during the race meeting at Ipswich - the first Queensland meeting after the shocking news came through.
The tribute was at a track where the young rider had collected dozens of wins over the past couple of seasons.
THE four day Flemington Carnival signalled the end of Spring Group 1 racing and there were stories aplenty out of the week.
The track bias which was at its worst early in the carnival was the early headline.
The defeats of favoured high class gallopers Exosphere, Chautauqua and many others across the week were blamed on the state of the track and an unequal playing field depending on where horses were drawn and raced.
Representatives of Flemington admitted that the track was badly biased and that a review would be undertaken with an aim of solving such issues in future - especially for Australia's greatest week of racing.
Whilst the track bias was an issue, there were a number of tales on and off the track during the week.
The headline story was clearly the winning ride of Michelle Payne aboard Prince of Penzance in the Melbourne Cup.
In winning the Cup, the 30 year old from the famous Victorian racing family became the first female to win a Melbourne Cup in the 155th year of its running.
Brother Stevie who was born with Down Syndrome strapped the winner and importantly drew barrier 1 for the stable at the official draw three days prior.
That barrier was extremely important as shown by the result where the first three to finish came from barriers one, two and four in that order.
Japanese runner Fame Game ran as favourite. However from barrier 12, Fame Game was never able to get closer than three horses off the fence and was forced 10 wide on the turn into an area that many labelled as "quick sand".
Off the track there was footage of a number of events that went viral including a not well thought out Cup Day dare to push over a policemen and a semi naked romp during the thunderstorm on Oaks Day as patrons on the lawn scattered.
There were many other humorous incidents especially at the end of each of the days around the course and at train station exits.
The best sight of the carnival was undoubtedly the view from above of 101,000 people on Cup Day - an attendance which was the only one of the Spring Carnival to increase on last year showing the importance of the Melbourne Cup to not only Australian racing, but also to the Australian way of life.