Turf Club work delays a concern heading into new year
ANYONE driving through Bundamba would have noticed there has been another delay to infrastructure works at Ipswich racecourse.
The irrigation and drainage work on the course proper continue to go to plan although little or no activity has been seen in off-track works being conducted by Racing Queensland.
The off-course elements include installation of new race day stalls, widening of TL Cooney Ave and installation of the carpark required for the operation of the still to be opened new Member’s Race day Lounge and Function Centre. These projects will not commence this year according to recent advice from Racing Queensland.
Despite a false start in 2018, and second round dates for commencement in 2019 of September 23, November 4 and December 2 being given in recent months by Racing Queensland, there is still no contract in place for these works and no sign of a 2019 commencement.
These further delays to projects that were approved in March 2017, place significant doubt over their completion prior to the Ipswich Cup of 2020, and certainly give little chance of completion of all elements prior to the resumption of racing on April 8.
However, the news is not all bad as Racing Queensland have agreed to the request of ITC Chairman Wayne Patch to complete the full carpark as a priority to allow the Ipswich Turf Club to continue with plans in place to open the Ipswich Events and Entertainment Centre in mid-2020.
The downside to this is the high probability that only 80 of the old race day stalls will be available upon the racing resumption on April 8. However, Racing Queensland have pledged to install temporary stalls if needed, and then to remove them when the new stalls are completed.
Additionally the delay in works will not affect Ipswich Cup Day as the compound for new stalls construction will be the space reserved for the stalls. Marquees are planned to be situated around this area anyway.
These key requirements are for the return to racing on April 8, the opening of the Ipswich Events and Entertainment Centre in mid-year, and the running of the social event of Ipswich - Cup Day on June 13 next year.
Group 1 highlight
THE running of the Kingston Town Stakes in Perth on the weekend signalled the end of the Group 1 Australian events for calendar year 2019.
A calendar year without champion mare Winx was always going to create difficulties for Australian racing after four years of a public love affair with the great mare whose astonishing string of 33 consecutive wins including a World Record 25 Group 1’s, will take a power of beating.
Poor weather and animal welfare issues arising during the Spring Carnival combined with the Winx effect to have a significant impact on racing attendances this year although there were some major highlights.
Undoubtedly the Group 1 highlight from an Australian point of view was the first home-bred galloper this decade to win the Melbourne Cup as Vow and Declare held off the imported contingent.
The CF Orr Stakes is the first Group 1 of the year 2020 in early February although prior to that is the Gold Coast Magic Millions.
While not a Group 1 race, the Magic Millions has evolved into a spectacular day of racing for rich prizes Gold Coast style.