Turf Club race day is back on track
PUNTERS flocked to the race track yesterday to make Ipswich's eighth Labour Day race meeting one of the biggest.
After the change from the traditional May holiday last year, the event has bounced back to match the largest crowds for the day, with 3500 through the gates yesterday.
Ipswich Turf Club general manager Brett Kitching was delighted to see crowd support similar to the golden years of racing.
"To see thousands of people in the grandstands cheering as the horses come into the straight is a bit back to the old days of live racing. It's just something we don't see too often anymore," he said.
Toowoomba champion Beau Boy won the Labour Day Cup for trainer Matt Kropp.
But it was jockey Jim Byrne who had the crowd cheering early in the day, riding the winner for Race 1 and returning to the track to take Race 2.
Byrne could have secured the hat-trick, but paramedics stood him down for Race 3 after he suffered minor fatigue. The horse he was to ride came in first place.
The second-biggest event on Ipswich Turf Club's racing calendar was hailed a success with the usual free entry and perfect weather on the club's side this year.
Racing fans were eager to get into the action with a crowd of 1600 already assembled by the Bundamba track more than an hour before the first race, surpassing total crowd figures for the first event in 2007.
Mr Kitching said the change in the holiday from May to October had thrown the event last year, but he was pleased the turnout was back on track.
"It's a great result. Last year was a kind of first again because we were back to October from May, it was a very hot day last year, 38 degrees, but the numbers that we had for the day last year we had in before the first race (yesterday)," he said.
"We're very happy with the figures, it's been a success. We've had a lot of support from the CFMEU and a lot of hard work from the staff here and it has all paid off."
CFMEU sponsorship provided free entry on the day and the track was a hive of activity with the Ipswich Handmade Expo markets also on site, free rides, face painting, petting zoo and live music making the day a great family outing.
The $25,000 prizemoney on offer for the Labour Day Cup attracted runners from Murwillumbah to the Sunshine Coast and out to Toowoomba.
The Cup race lured the best trainers in southeast Queensland, including Tony Gollan and Robert Heathcote, who won Race 1.