The freight train that is the Brisbane Winter Carnival is now fast running out of steam and there’s only the Eagle Farm meeting next Saturday and the Caloundra Cup on Saturday week – and it’s all over for another year.

The Ipswich Cup was on last Saturday and I often get emails asking me why I don’t attend Ipswich Cup day. Even though my besotted bride and I live only 10 minutes away from the Ipswich track, I chose not to go, as my late parents thankfully taught me to always call it like it is and to stand by some principles as one proceeds along the path of life. Most people in life are just followers. They’d follow the rest of the population if they all walked off a cliff, the point being it’s far easier to be a follower than a leader.

I’m happy to again state publicly today the reasons why I boycott Ipswich Cup day. Firstly I disagree vehemently with any race club anywhere across the length and breadth of this great country restricting their main annual meeting at a racetrack to persons 18 years and older, specifically for the sole purpose of allowing everyone to get on the grog. I have nothing against alcohol, provided it is drunk in moderation, but I don’t think that alcohol alone is a valid reason to exclude young people, who at the end of the day are surely the very people who will constitute the racetrack crowds of the future – from attending a racetrack. I can’t see how that strategy of excluding under 18’s for one day a year does anything beneficial whatsoever for the racing industry for the other 51 weeks of the year. It’s a fact of life that for 51 weeks a year race clubs have major problems attracting crowds and to see families with small children turned away at the front gate and sent home on Ipswich Cup day is a somewhat sad and debilitating experience as far as I’m concerned. Put simply those that are turned away will never return – nor will all the people that they tell of their heartbreaking experience. How is it fair to turn Joe and Jenny Bloggs and their three children aged 15, 13 and 6 away, when Joe and Jenny both work all week and are surely just as entitled to attend as Noel Nohoper and Natalie Nitwit who have both just turned 18 in recent months and their friends have told them that Ipswich Turf Club is a great place to get smashed on their annual Ipswich Cup day? Now I’m no Queen’s Counsel, but in the litigious world we live in, isn’t that rule of banning under 18’s discriminatory? That’s apart from it being as dumb as the dog derivative in respect of its long term benefit of the industry as mentioned earlier.

Sure Ipswich Turf Club gets a big crowd once a year and that’s terrific for the club Chairman Wayne Patch, who is one of the nicest people you could meet in the racing industry, but the unfortunate part is that 99% of the alleged 20,000 crowd that were at Ipswich last Saturday will never come back to another meeting at the club throughout the entire year, meaning 99% aren’t there for the horse racing – they are only there to party one day a year. Yet those members of the public that don’t bother going because of all the drunks, like say the Joe and Jenny Bloggs, that you might recall just got turned away at the front gate, may in fact have a love for the sport and for the animal. In any event, if people want to get on the soup, they can do that at any of the numerous clubs or pubs that abound in Ipswich.

So I’m vehemently opposed to banning under 18-year-olds from our racetracks. It’s a short term fix with assured devastating long term results. In fact the racing industry today is what I’d call “pretty much stuffed” because of a plethora of poor management decisions that have been made along the way in the last 20 years by both the governing bodies of the three codes of the sport, as well as long standing committee people who keep getting voted back in by club members and those club members, in the main, wouldn’t know which way was up as far as I’m concerned. As I’ve written here numerous times over the years, a committee person should be made stand in front of the microphone at the club AGM and advise those present exactly what innovations he or she has brought to the club in the preceding 12 months. Most would stand there like stunned mullet – speechless – yet they are continually retained on the committee. In reality many metropolitan race club committees resemble “a boys club” rather than my perception of what their mission statement should be, namely “a hard working group of dedicated people trying to ensure through their innovative ideas that their club achieves its optimum success in both the short term and the long term”.

I haven’t been to an Ipswich Cup for a few years even though up until a few years ago – before they bought in this under 18 nonsense – I’d been to most of them. As at last week my wife and I have lived in the Ipswich area for 37 years, never at any stage being domiciled more than about 20 minutes from the track and I therefore feel that I’ve lived in and around the city long enough to comment on the place. A few years ago, after the Ipswich Turf Club switched Ipswich Cup day to 18-year-olds and over, I went along to an Ipswich Cup with an open mind, but by the time I walked out the front gate my mind was full of negative images. The crowd behaviour was appalling. Inebriated humans were everywhere and as happens around the dreaded demon called alcohol, some people get happy on the stuff, but sadly many others become offensive and try to incite a blue, for that’s just the nature of the beast – as it’s hardly rocket science to know that it’s “a personality changer”, as numerous shelters for women and daily magistrates court proceedings can attest. Drunks were everywhere and that was a major turn-off. But there were other sad things I witnessed. In fact if I hadn’t seen some of them with my own eyes, I wouldn’t have believed them. Numbers of young women would simply walk into the male toilet step up on the male urinating trough and lean back and urinate next to men. Now I can assure you that I’ve got the broadest mind imaginable, but I draw the line at that sort of behaviour going on unchecked. In fact it’s surely a pathetic indictment on our society to think that these excuses for humans are possibly even mothers. If they weren’t mothers then, well they sadly probably would be now. As a society going forward, what hope have the children got if the parents have no morals? Nil I’d suggest, hence the end result is that there are feral adults and their young feral offspring in ever increasing numbers – running rampant in our society today. Where society is at today all makes sense really – as the children were brought into the world by parents that have no respect for themselves, so how could their children possibly have any respect for anything?

Another year I was at the Ipswich Cup when it was an over 18’s event and the following week The Courier Mail reported the crowd behaviour was terrific and all this allied garbage and stated that three people were arrested. I thought “that’s got to be crap as I saw more than three arrested with my own eyes”, so I rang the local police inspector on the following Monday or Tuesday. I forget the exact number now, given the passage of time, but I wrote a story on it at the time and from memory the inspector told me some number like 56 had been arrested, which is just a few more than three.

What people must realize is that if there is an arrest made at 6pm in the main street for public drunkenness or assault, or whatever – and the perpetrator was at the Ipswich Cup meeting drinking all day, well the Ipswich Turf Club was in no small way responsible for the persons state of mind at the time, so arrests go on well into the Saturday night after a day of drinking. And on the subject of drinking you would have to believe in Santa Claus and the Easter Bunny to think that much notice is taken during the course of the day in respect of “the responsible service of alcohol.” How do you police that aspect in a packed on course tent? And once the last race is run and won and the crowd leaves the Ipswich racetrack, they hit numerous watering holes around the town. The owners of these watering holes get a once a year opportunity to make big money on the night, so they have to make the most of it – I would too if I were in their shoes. Whilst there is added security in most of these places, it’s not a pre-requisite that everyone you are buying a drink for has to front the bar and pass a sobriety test, so the opportunity exists for copious numbers of individuals to get served who really shouldn’t be being served at all.

So what most people connected with the race club, or their mates to a man in racing radio and/or racing television media and the local Ipswich newspaper, etcetera, call a wonderful “success” story and the like – I don’t – based on what I’ve seen with my own eyes. Security may well have been beefed up in recent years, but I don’t intend going back each year to the Ipswich Cup to check on that aspect. I’m accredited Racing Queensland media, so I could get in the front gate for free and pose around the enclosure all day and being Australia’s largest racing website owner I could suck up to the committee and get some free drinks and nibblies for writing positive stuff about the club – but I choose not to. I don’t need any free ticket to anything along the path of life in racing. That way my independence is not compromised. In fact I have no intention whatsoever of ever going to an Ipswich Cup meeting whilst the club ban under 18’s. If that rule is in place until the day they close the lid on my box well so be it, I’ll never see another one at the track, as one has to live by some principles. I accept numerous other people have none – but that’s their problem to resolve.

In the local Ipswich newspaper The Queensland Times yesterday on Page 12 when a group of just four people were asked the question “What do you enjoy about the Ipswich Cup”, the first respondent, an “18”-year-old Ipswich resident allegedly told the paper, “The unlimited amount of alcohol you get with entry price for infield marquees”. That 13 word statement and the photo from the Letters to the Editor section today from the same newspaper – simply reinforce my case to avoid the joint, as if I went amazingly I’d actually go there for the racing.

Last Saturday I had my first Saturday off work connected with racing in six years and took a wonderful widowed 74-year-old long standing family friend, who doesn’t like driving, on a day out to see the Warwick area. We listened to one race in the car – the Ipswich Cup – and when Anagold won the race my heart went out to the 99% of punters who missed the winner.

Fair dinkum, how could anyone back Anagold to win the Ipswich Cup? Her four runs back from a 14-week spell had resulted in a seventh of nine beaten 7.5 lengths – a tenth of thirteen beaten 6.25 lengths, an eighth of 14 beaten 8.5 lengths and an eighth of 13 beaten over 5 lengths. With form of 7-10-8-8 and jumping dramatically in class from three of her last four starts, she was impossible to have.

Eye Liner Stakes winner Conservatorium hadn’t won a race since 15/10/11 – meaning he’d been out of the winner’s list for 20 months – yet he romped in, which doesn’t say much for the rest. Then in post race discussions, the trainer Of Conservatorium allegedly stated that he was saddened that his horse didn’t get a run in the Stradbroke seven days earlier, when he was an emergency. Settle down Gazza – if your horse was good enough, he’d have been drawn straight into the final Stradbroke field. For starters the Stradbroke is 1400 metres and before last Saturday, Conservatorium had never even won past 1200 metres.

But when I looked at the results of the day and watched the replays, amongst all the drunks that were no doubt there on the day, the Ipswich Cup meeting had one shining light and he shone like a beacon on a gloomy day in Moreton Bay. He didn’t step out in the Ipswich Cup or the Eye Liner Stakes, but he’d walked out and showed his talent in Race 3 on the card. Racing under the name of Cape Kidnappers, the rising 6YO son of Commands and the Red Ransom mare Kidnappers – hadn’t started for 61 weeks before he won the Class 6 set weights race. It was a terrific training performance by Kelly Schweida to have the horse ready to rock and roll on the prevailing slow 7 track after so long off.

As they say in the classics, there’s always a positive in amongst all the negatives and Cape Kidnappers winning after so long off was the one positive at Ipswich last Saturday.

Today on www.brisbaneracing.com.au just to show that I’m a fair man, I don’t ban Ipswich Turf Club from having photos of their Cup day go up on my websites just because I disagree with a policy of theirs. So today is the first of two montages of photos from there. On www.sydneyracing.com.au David Clarkson writes on three subjects, firstly greyhound racing, secondly on dramas at Rosehill and thirdly on William Hill finally acquiring Sportingbet, whilst on www.melbourneracing.com.au Matt Nicholls writes on Victorian racing.

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