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By Graham Potter | Tuesday, March 12, 2019

After the abandonment of the Ipswich meeting last Friday there was a strong call by stakeholders for the track to be closed with immediate effect so that the problem with the racing surface could be worked on as a priority and rectified as a necessity. That call was rejected and today that decision came back to bite the Racing Queensland senior decision makers with the meeting scheduled for Ipswich tomorrow having to be moved to Doomben at an unacceptable, very short notice period following ‘the determination (by officials) that a small section of the track at Ipswich TC remains unsuitable for racing.’ Things surely cannot go on like this.

A couple of days ago Racing Queensland CEO Brendan Parnell poured cold water over the demands of industry participants to have racing at Ipswich moved to other venues while the unsatisfactory track surface there is worked on so that it can be brought up to racing standard.

A press release by Racing Queensland at the time stated that ‘further remediation’ of the Ipswich track had been ‘requested’ which will include ‘immediate plugging of the bare areas with healthy turf,’ and that ‘critical repair work of the collector drain to the inside of the course proper will also be conducted.’

“We know the industry is frustrated with what is conspiring at Bundamba and we know action is required,” Parnell said, but, by far the more telling and chilling quote by Parnell in the press release came when he added, “Ideally, a full renovation is required at Ipswich, however, this is neither planned nor budgeted.

“Moving forward, we will mandate course renovation closures for our TAB clubs and a January window has been identified for Ipswich in 2020.”

Given the current circumstances a January window in 2020 suddenly seems a very long way away.


Parnell did point out that, “The outage of Eagle Farm has contributed to the strain placed on our other tracks in south-east Queensland and Ipswich is a by-product of that closure … but there are those at Ipswich who will tell you that the real problems related to the current track concern started back in 2014 when Racing Queensland stepped in to do other remedial work.

Following a previous meeting abandonment at Ipswich in late February this report was posted on the Ipswich Turf Club website:

‘There are two particular problem sections on the track. A hard clay surface at the 400m-mark and past the winning post. (This) was created in 2014 when Racing Queensland attempted to remove severe bumps. A cushion of grass was scraped off, creating drainage problems.

“We’ve suffered with that ever since,” Chairman of the club Wayne Patch said.

He said Racing Queensland had not responded to the club’s request to close and permanently fix the problem. Turf club officials want to “bite the bullet”, close the track and build an access tunnel to the centre, when they will also resurface the track to permanently fix the problem.

“Their (Racing Queensland’s) inaction, their inability to make decisions on infrastructure has contributed heavily to the position we’re in with this drip-fed remediation work.”

“They built the pyramids quicker, Patch concluded.”

The club and racing stakeholders are telling Racing Queensland the same thing … close and fully correct the racing surface and the latest unravelling of any order in the situation can only increase the volume of that call.

Just how bad is Ipswich Turf Club’s position and relationship with Racing Queensland and, if not good, how much is the latter impasse getting in the way of a solution … is a question that could well be asked.

To repeat Parnell’s quote, “Ideally, a full renovation is required at Ipswich, however, this is neither planned nor budgeted.”

Planning can always be rearranged. Budget … well that is another question … and, if no funds are available for essential work track maintenance like this when it is urgently needed then hands might indeed be tied and racing at Ipswich might be in a far worse position than anyone thought.


*The latest press release from Racing Queensland reads:

Racing Queensland confirms that following a track inspection by RQ officials, QRIC stewards and Ipswich TC representatives, the midweek metropolitan race meeting programed for Ipswich TC on Wednesday 13 March has been transferred and will now be run under the auspices of Brisbane Racing Club at Doomben.

The transfer has been deemed necessary following the determination that a small section of the track at Ipswich TC remains unsuitable for racing.

As a result of the change, it has been necessary to amend the distances of some of the races on the program. These comprise:

Race 3 – Class 4 Handicap – was 1666m, is now 1640m
Race 4 – Maiden Handicap – was 1666m, is now 1640m
Race 5 – Maiden Plate (SW) – was 1100m, is now 1110m
Race 6 – Benchmark 65 Handicap – was 1000m, is now 1050m
The remainder of the program remains as has been previously published.

All previously notified scratchings for the Ipswich TC race meeting have been reinstated. Further, as the rail at Doomben will be positioned at 6 metres, the starting limit for Race 6 on the program (Benchmark 65 Handicap, now 1050m) will be 13, thus accommodating an additional two starters in that race.

RQ will also waive any fees associated with scratchings made as a consequence of the transfer of the race meeting.

The Doomben track was rated a Good 4 at 2:15pm, Tuesday 12 March.

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