Punters revel in big event

IN JUST one day of racing, Ipswich will spend an extraordinary $5 million, which is the same amount pokie machines usually take from the region's punters in one month.

Welcome to Ipswich Cup day, the biggest social event of the year - at least in the western corridor.

Australia has officially avoided a recession and in order to celebrate, thousands of south-west Queensland's finest will flutter away their hard-earned at the Ipswich Cup on Saturday.

Despite the economic downturn, Ipswich Turf Club general manager Brett Kitching expects a massive crowd of 22,000 to stream into the Bundamba Racecourse.

“It's the biggest party of the year for Ipswich - this is a social event, not just a race day,” he said.

Mr Kitching said Australia's poor economy had not halted racing fans' expenditure.

“It wouldn't appear so,” Mr Kitching said.

“Traditionally the racing industry is not really affected by the recession - people still want to be entertained.

“We had a really good attendance at the Labor Day weekend races. It was a fair bit bigger than the year before.”

And the party will not stop growing.

Mr Kitching said this year's Cup would have more marquees than any other race day in Australia, holding 10,000 people.

“The only track I think would come close would be Flemington (Melbourne) but I think that does not even hold 9000 people,” Mr Kitching said.

Fashion will also take centre stage with the Fashions of the Field competition allowing the region's fashion conscious to shine.

Mr Kitching said Ipswich Cup patrons would down more than 60,000 cans of beer at the event; spend two million dollars betting with bookmakers on course and with phone bets; while another two million dollars will be spent on UniTAB around Australia.

Security will also be upgraded following the infamous track invasion last year, with a fence erected along the length of the home straight inside the existing fence to stop a repeat of any 'Scooby Doo-themed' interference.

The final field list for the race horses in this year's Cup is yet to be finalised.

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