Renovations on track
The Ipswich Racetrack renovations commenced on time last week and the bulk of the preparatory work prior to re-laying of new turf was completed by the weekend.
Ipswich Turf Club staff and Cheshire Contractors have partnered with Racing Queensland to undertake a course proper refurbishment and work on this project is well under way.
The first step last week was to shave off the top layer of grass and soil prior to turning the ground to the required depth. The next step was to grade the track level giving it a look resembling an American dirt track. The track in this state was unrecognisable compared to just a week earlier when an eight race card was conducted at the facility.
The major reason for the renovations was concern over the racing surface in the back straight and predominantly around the 700 – 1000 metre marks. The track had become a little uneven in this area particularly since the floods of 2011. There had been jockey concerns raised by the Australian Jockey’s Association over unevenness which appeared to become progressively worse over the past couple of years.
Whilst there had been no incidents on the track over the time since the floods, Racing Queensland decided in the interests of horse and jockey safety to undergo a full restoration of the Ipswich racing surface. The project is being funded by Racing Queensland and is a clear indication of the value of, and importance of the Ipswich Racetrack to the future of thoroughbred racing in Queensland. The project also clearly shows the priority of horse and jockey safety as a temporary closure of Ipswich Racetrack causes programming difficulties for Racing Queensland, but the priority was the safety of horse and jockey.
As this article goes to print, the relaying of new turf is planned to commence. This process will take up to a couple of weeks which will give almost two months for the new turf to fully take hold prior to the planned recommencement of racing at Ipswich on April 23. April 23 is a Wednesday which Ipswich patrons can expect to see a few more of in future. This is as a result of Ipswich being the only Queensland track capable of regularly taking on metropolitan Wednesday meetings as the Brisbane racetracks of Eagle Farm and Doomben become unavailable for various reasons such as track renovations.
There is an exciting period of racing at Ipswich subsequent to the re-opening in April with the Legs Eddies Saturday meeting on May 3, the Ipswich Show Day Meeting on May 16, and the famous and historic Ipswich Cup meeting on June 14. Apart from the track renovations, the grounds crew are taking the opportunity to clean and spruce up the overall facilities, whilst the implementation of digital cabling and televisions is also taking place, meaning patrons should see a more modern overall facility upon recommencement of racing in April.