Ipswich keeps racing afloat

 (Photo: Just Greyhound Photos)

Ipswich Club wrap by MIKE HILL

IT’S been Ipswich to the rescue.

In the aftermath of the devastating floods that hit south-east Queensland in late February and early March, Brisbane and Capalaba greyhound tracks have been put out of action.

Both were inundated by flood waters.

As the region has gradually recovered, greyhound racing action has fallen heavily on the shoulders of the Ipswich club and its staff.

As of late last month, it was still uncertain when racing would resume at Albion Park and Capalaba.

In the meantime, Ipswich has picked up the slack and kept the industry firing, racing seven-days-a-week.

And, according to officials, it will continue to do so until the other two tracks are back in action.

Meanwhile, in a way of bringing the industry together, Ipswich will celebrate its 40th anniversary at a special festive meeting on Saturday, April 16.

Not only is it the night of the rich Group 3R $59,500 Ipswich Auction Final (520m) but the club, in association with Racing Queensland, will stage the $25,000 Ipswich 40th Anniversary Trophy to celebrate the occasion.

The race, worth $15,600 to the winner, will be run over 520m and is open to all greyhounds that have raced at the track and distance in the past 12 months.

Runners and reserves will be selected in order of fastest times at Ipswich in the past 12 months (April 16, 2021 – April 8, 2022).

Nominations for this race close on Friday, April 8, and the field will be announced on the same day.

Ipswich began racing at its Showgrounds complex track back on Saturday, May 1, 1982, when Ted Meehan was president and Dr Llew Edwards was patron.

Rob Essex, who recently stepped into the president’s role, swapping his vice-presidency with Merv Page, who has had some health issues of late, said the club’s effort to keep the industry going following the floods had been enormous.

“It’s been a mammoth effort by all involved,” he said.

Essex praised his Ipswich staff for their excellent work under difficult and trying conditions.

“It’s been a stressful time for many,” he said.

And he was somewhat critical of some within the industry at a time when many had lost everything.

“I can’t believe what some of our office staff have had to put up with on the phone,” he said.

“They are doing their best and don’t deserve some of the abuse they’re copping.

“It has to stop.”

Essex said the club was racing seven times a week and providing trials on Thursday mornings from 6-11am.

“I know owners and trainers would like more trialling time but it’s impossible unless we lose meetings,” he said.

“Some have suggested trialling on Mondays, but that’s our maintenance day .

“We are operating on a tightrope. We can’t afford for any maintenance problems to occur or we would lose meetings.

“From a club’s point of view we are doing our best.

“We just need everybody to understand the situation and be thankful we can still race.”

On the club’s anniversary celebrations, Essex said it was going to be a night of entertainment and reminiscing.

“It’ll be a night full of fun and celebration with activities for the whole family from buffet meals, raffles and giveaways for the adults to magicians and face painting for the children,” he said.

“The club is also calling on as many past committee members as possible to join in the celebrations.”

Paul Dolan, in a report on the club’s first ever meeting back in 1982, said an estimated 3000 people attended the opening night with 15 bookmakers fielding on the local events and the Albion Park trots as well as some southern meetings.

Lyndal and Don Massey were lucky enough to rug up the first ever winner, Yessam Black Top, in a 5th Grade over 512m.

Starting at 5-1, although Don said the bookies bet as much as 16-1, the dog won in a time of 31.66s.

In a quirky coincidence, the Masseys won the final race ever at Border Park, Tweed Heads, on December 3, 2016, with Magical Yessam.

Other successful trainers on opening night included Bob Glindemann, who led in a double with Glinell Fred and Glinell Spotty , Keith Dickinson (The Gallows), Noel Wright (Lightning Clover), Ron Ball (Tashina’s Image) and John Martin (Sendum Sprawlin).

MEANWHILE, the Tony Brett-trained Milligan showed his enormous potential with a highly impressive win in the $6500 Ipswich Past Members Final (431m) last month.

After missing the start from box one, the son of Keybow and Velocity Charm chased the John McCarthy-prepared front runner Chance ($5) all the way, only grabbing the lead close to home.

A hot $1.65 favourite, Milligan also had to overcome a check on the top turn that cost him his momentum and a length or so.

However, the young sprinter showed his strength and determination in the straight for an exceptional win in the $4225-to-the-winner final.

Another Brett sprinter What A Debacle ($3.40) was a close third.

The victory took Milligan’s career record to eight wins and a third from just 10 starts.

Brett has a huge opinion of the black chaser.

“He’s my best up-and-comer, he’s the one with the most potential,” the multi-Group 1 winning trainer said last month.

“He should develop into a real good race dog.”

PAWNOTE: Greyhounds of all ages will be on show at the Ipswich Greyhound Racing Sweepstakes on Saturday, May 14, as part of the annual Ipswich Show. Club secretary Di O’Donnell said entries for pups from three months to retired veterans were now open with prizemoney, trophies and sashes up for grabs. She said entry forms were available on-line or from the club.

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