Sienna's Choice, ridden by James Orman, holds on in a nose by nose finish at Ipswich racetrack today. Picture: Claire Power
Sienna's Choice, ridden by James Orman, holds on in a nose by nose finish at Ipswich racetrack today. Picture: Claire Power

Rising racing fortunes celebrated with three-way thriller


Brett Kitching

RACING Queensland announced the highest ever return to participants was made in the last financial year ended June 2020.

It was appropriate then that the next Ipswich race following that announcement delivered over $30,000 prize money to participants.

The race was the 3 year old maiden QTIS added event and a thrilling finish kept the judges busy. It resulted in a nose by nose decision.

Winner of the race was Sienna's Choice for trainer Kelly Schweida and jockey Jim Orman. Close behind was Ginja for Steven O'Dea and Anthony Allen, with third going to Imali for John Manzelmann and Ronnie Stewart.

The Queensland Thoroughbred Incentive Scheme (QTIS) added prize resulted in a payday of in excess of $20,000 for the winner alone.

Racing Queensland, the control body of three codes of racing in the state, announced a modest profit for the financial year.

Under extraordinary circumstances in the final quarter of the financial year, positive actions combined with an unforeseen stroke of fortune helped deliver the impressive result.

The RQ actions included a reduction in prizemoney to ensure the race clubs providing the product without patrons did not suffer financially.

The unexpected fortune came from a mass of punters returning to racing during the COVID-19 shutdown.

The payments for hardship and carnival compensation made to racing clubs allowed those clubs to continue without the normal revenue streams from race day and carnival attendances.

The huge uplift in wagering on Queensland racing during COVID lockdowns with little betting alternative across the world, resulted in higher returns to Racing Queensland in a totally unexpected manner.

This wagering growth had a significant impact on Racing Queensland's revenue growth of in excess of 12%.

While the past half decade or so has resulted in more financial loss than gain, the result this year gives pleasing respite to those at Racing Queensland tasked with an unenviable job.

That job is in balancing the books between various bodies among the three codes of racing, with most of these bodies having incongruous interests.

Ipswich Infrastructure Project nears end

THE long-awaited infrastructure project at the Ipswich Turf Club is finally nearing completion.

The remaining elements of the project are demolition of the old race day stalls and associated structures on Brisbane Road, and the widening of TL Cooney Avenue.

On the demolition, the contractors are planning to be offsite by early next week.

The work on TL Cooney is currently set for completion in mid-September.

The final element of TL Cooney widening has gone close to the original time line of three months for work completion. Unfortunately, it took the Racing Queensland project managers almost two and a half years to commence the job, after receiving Ipswich City Council permission in early 2018.

This included missing the period of golden opportunity when the racetrack was down for drainage works, with further delay during the COVID lockdown when there was no restriction on work commencement.

Despite a checkered infrastructure path over a decade and a half, along with significant business disruption over the past few years, the end is firmly in sight providing terrific opportunity to the club.

The club is in an envious position with a new racetrack, new racing facilities, a new expanded events and entertainment centre encompassing children's playground, family restaurant, function and event options, and new and varied bar and dining options.

Initial operations of the centre have been highly successful despite the COVID environment lingering on.

That has left the club, along with other entertainment and hospitality operators in the city, eagerly awaiting a return to normal conditions.

Next meetings

IPSWICH'S September racing program commences next Thursday.

The program includes a Saturday Provincial meeting on September 19 when the official opening of the new facility is planned.

Additionally, there are meetings on Thursdays, September 10 and 24.

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