Ipswich Turf Club general manager Brett Kitching. Picture: Rob Williams
Ipswich Turf Club general manager Brett Kitching. Picture: Rob Williams

Turf club takes active lead in tackling issues


IT is a very different world following the global outbreak of the coronavirus pandemic.

Economies, communities, societies, stock markets, enterprises of all shapes and sizes, and ways of life in general have been shaken to the core. There seems no end in sight in a fast moving crisis.

The racing world has also been turned upside down.

The announcement by Racing Queensland came last week that there will be continued racing without patrons. This announcement for an indefinite period of time followed other states of Australia after Racing Victoria took the lead with a $5m race run without patrons 10 days ago.

The Ipswich Turf Club Management Committee showed significant foresight just a few days ago in deciding to take the further step of confirming the period of racing without crowds through to the end of the financial year.

The best advice of governments and health authorities is that restrictions on public and social gatherings will be in place for at least three months. This advice helped make the decision to inform Ipswich Cup patrons, give full commitment to racing stakeholders of continued racing, and to meet government and health authority requirements.

Described as the third largest industry in Queensland, racing is of vital importance as tens of thousands of participants make a living from the sport.

Hence the importance of taking whatever actions are necessary to do all possible to ensure continuation of racing at Ipswich and across the state.

The decision made by the Ipswich Turf Club Committee is a selfless one as even the committee will be banned from race meetings at the club for the period that the race meetings are without crowds - and this includes the Ipswich Cup if racing can be maintained until then.

Racing Queensland has come up with clear communications of who may attend race meetings and these attendees are required to conduct the race meetings, with a very limited number of media attendees, though guidelines are changing almost daily.

Complementary year for members

ANOTHER decision of the Ipswich Turf Club Committee last week was to provide an extension of 2020 paid up members through to June 30, 2021.

After five months of nil racing at Ipswich while track works were undertaken, the remaining race meetings for the financial year are expected to be run without crowds.

As recognition of this membership hardship, chairman Wayne Patch and the committee voted to extend the current membership through until June 2021. It was also decided to defer the Member's Day which was set down for the April 8 return to a date later in the year.

The Government is acting quickly to reduce the spread of coronavirus while still managing to keep the economy running along as best as possible.

The economic benefits of racing are enormous so continuing racing without patrons and with other isolation precautions in place is the logical approach to take.

Eerie sight

GROUP 1 racing in two states continued across Australia last weekend.

As with major sports competitions including racing, it is an unusual and eerie sight to see vision of these sports without live spectators. However, these are the times that we currently live in.

The closure of state borders today again does not affect racing as each state can carry on their own programs within the state.

It was Rosehill's biggest day of the year on Saturday as five Group 1 events were contested. The world's richest two-year-old race the Golden Slipper was won by juvenile colt Farnan leading all the way for jockey Hugh Bowman and the training team of Gai Waterhouse and Adrian Bott.

It was the seventh Slipper win for Gai Waterhouse who is no stranger to Ipswich having last year won the Gai Waterhouse Classic for the first time after winning two Ipswich Cups in 1993 (Beachside) and 2008 (Bianca).

Ipswich return

IPSWICH racing returns on April 8 barring any further effects of coronavirus.

After no racing for five months, the return on what is shaping to be a superb racing surface is eagerly awaited by many - even if it is only to be watched on televised viewing by patrons.

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