IPSWICH TURF CLUB WANT AN EACH WAY BET IN A TWO-HORSE RACE AS THE CHAIRMAN SAYS RACING QUEENSLAND ARE PUTTING “IMPEDIMENTS” IN THE WAY OF PROGRESS AT HIS TRACK

22/01/15

Having lived in Ipswich for over 38 years, one doesn’t need a very high IQ to see what individuals and/or entities are joined at the hip. And in the “incestuous world of thoroughbred racing” the Ipswich Turf Club is so far up the local fish and chip wrapper, The Queensland Times , or the other way around, you work out who’s in control – that if one coughs the other one will be blown to smithereens.

In reality they are good for each other – one strokes the others ego. That’s what seems to happen all around the place in thoroughbred racing. Big egos need lots of stroking – so backslapping is second nature.

On each Ipswich Cup day annually, the Ipswich Turf Club runs The Queensland Times Provincial Cup. In my opinion it’s generally an awful race that is full of for slow pretenders. Be that as it may, that’s at least one way of rewarding The Queensland Times for their patronising throughout the year. As an outsider looking in, it would appear that if the Ipswich Turf Club want a story written then The Queensland Times would be there for them.

And so it came to pass that way back on 27 August 2008 The Queensland Times led with a story entitled “Turf Club Reveals $40 MIL Proposal”. They even put the “$40 MIL” in red so that it stood out like the canine proverbials. On the front page was a photo of Ipswich Turf Club (ITC) Chairman, Wayne Patch, with “Eve Monement and Stephen Williams from developer Wingate Babcock.”

That article went on to state that “ITC chairman Wayne Patch revealed the development (“$40 million retail and sport development) exclusively to The Queensland Times after outlining it to members at the club’s AGM”. The article further stated that “Mr Patch said the Club’s Board had accepted a proposal from Wingate Babcock director Stephen Williams to form a joint venture to redevelop three hectares of its surplus land. Highlights of the proposal include replacing the stable and food areas and car park with a commercial-retail precinct and relocating the stable area into the centre of the track with access via a tunnel at the racetrack”.

But despite the Babcock director advising the project “could be finished within three years” following Ipswich City Council approval, Justracing has not witnessed any skyscrapers being built on the land, or even any heavy earthmoving equipment on site at the Ipswich Turf Club, albeit I was only allowed in the hallowed ITC enclosure for a very short time recently before being asked to leave one race day as I’m “not welcome here”. At a subsequent visit when I was high in the sky in the grandstand, I didn’t see any development happening either, so I guess it’s fair to say that in six years and four months (27 August 2008 until today) absolutely nothing noticeable is being developed at the Ipswich Turf Club except for possibly some complex about Justracing being in their enclosure.

Given I turn 60 during 2015 I’m starting to get a sick feeling in the stomach thinking that there’s a distinct possibility that I may well go to my maker without seeing 1) the Ipswich Turf Club $40 million development come to fruition, 2) the Logan greyhound track happen, or 3) a new harness racing track come to South-East Queensland.

So as you can see by the aforesaid box trifecta of “Ipswich Turf Club, new Cronulla Park greyhound track and replacement Parklands Harness Racing Club”, nothing much changes in the racing industry in Queensland as it seems all that ever happens is that just a hell of a lot of hot air gets spoken. These grandiose ideas make great headlines for fish and chip wrappers and the heart of racing participants may skip a beat or two whilst they close their eyes and dream of what could be, but in the end it’s a bit like Elizabeth Taylor’s husbands or Charlie Chaplin’s wives – namely “grossly disappointing and normally ends in grief”.

So after six years and four months of nothing, the Ipswich Turf Club recently called on their faithful servant – The Queensland Times – to pen two big articles in the 5 December 2014 edition of the paper. One article saw the Chairman of the Ipswich Turf Club, Wayne Patch, note Racing Queensland are an “impediment” to the process, whilst the other article targeted the sitting LNP Ipswich MP – Ian Berry.

In the article that targeted State politician Ian Berry, Bundamba sitting Labor Party MP, Jo-Ann Miller, stated of LNP Premier Campbell Newman, “He can find $2 billion for himself and his LNP mates but can’t find $6 million to assist the Ipswich Turf Club which is an integral part of our community. The Turf Club is not just about horse racing. It is a function venue for weddings and they have markets there.” (Editor’s note: Whoopee Ms Miller – which or any of those three things, namely “horse racing, functions venue for weddings or markets” could possibly be deemed as “an integral part of the community”? I’m 100% sure that society could exist without all three.)

In his reply to the newspaper’s questions, MP Ian Berry was quoted as saying “I do enquire with the Minister Steve Dickson regularly and it hasn’t moved from Racing Queensland. They have to sign off on it first; it’s non-political. We can’t tell them what to do. So it’s a matter now for Racing Queensland to sign off on the model and then talk to governments about how it is to be paid for”.

The Queensland Times was even able to contact Racing Queensland CEO Darren Condon and Condon reportedly told The Queensland Times that “RQ (Racing Queensland) is currently assessing the next phase of the industry infrastructure strategy and has been in discussion with the Ipswich Turf Club in relation to the proposed upgrade. As part of its Strategic Plan 2014-17, Racing Queensland is committed to developing first class racing infrastructure (excuse me for interrupting, but where are both the new Logan greyhound track and the new harness racing track to replace Parklands) and the Ipswich project is in keeping with that vision”.

In response to what Condon told the Ipswich paper, Wayne Patch told the reporter that “we’re after more than rhetoric now”. Patch went on to say “all we’re getting from Racing Queensland are impediments”.

So all one can say – as an outsider looking in – is that it’s good to see all those in high places are all excited to be working together as one big happy family in taking the Queensland racing industry forward.

The Ipswich Turf Club is clearly having an “each way bet” in the upcoming State election, due on Saturday week, which I guess is fair enough, because each way bets have been part of the racing industry for a long time now. But the problem is that in a two-horse race you can’t have an each way bet – win only betting is allowed. Even if the LNP get back into office, Statewide, following the election in nine days time, the sitting Ipswich LNP member is no chance of getting back in according to bookies, as the Labor Party are at $1.07 to regain the seat and Ian Berry is 7/1, with no takers. If the LNP were returned to power across the State, but the Labor Party regained the seat of Ipswich, then why would the LNP and their Racing Queensland appointed Board be in a hurry to help out the Ipswich Turf Club seeing that entity is being touted in the local media as “impediments” by the boss of that race club?

However if the Labor Party got back into power, both in Ipswich and Statewide, well “in the incestuous world of thoroughbred racing and politics” something positive is likely to happen at the Ipswich Turf Club, given the Labor Party Mayor of Ipswich, Paul Pisasale, is on the Ipswich Turf Club committee. Now that fact alone wouldn’t be deemed to be an “impediment” if Labor won power Statewide – would it?

The Ipswich Turf Club local whinge in The Queensland Times is just one of the interesting aspects to look forward to in the 31 January Queensland elections and one wouldn’t be dead for quids.

Today on www.brisbaneracing.com.au there’s the story on the two thoroughbred stallions that are vying for supremacy in supplying the most winners in Queensland this racing season. On www.sydneyracing.com.au there’s the story on the yearling sale that is on Sunday at Dubbo for the forty-third consecutive year, whilst on www.melbourneracing.com.au Matt Nicholls pens an interesting article on what racing needs to look at following the Sky Channel/TVN blues.

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