ALL IN A DAY'S WORK: THE FU­TURE KING

QT Magazine - - THE PEOPLE OF THE IPSWICH CUP - BY DAR­REN HALEESY

AC­CORD­ING TO STA­TIS­TICS, THE AV­ER­AGE A PER­SON STAYS IN A JOB THESE DAYS IS LESS THAN TWO YEARS. DON’T TELL THAT TO DAR­REL BELL, THE MAN WHO FOR AL­MOST FOUR DECADES HAS PUT HIS HEART AND SOUL INTO MAK­ING THE TRACK AND GAR­DENS AT THE IP­SWICH TURF CLUB SHINE ALL YEAR ROUND.

WHILE the so­cial as­pects of the Ip­swich Cup seem to get all the at­ten­tion, at the end of the day it is still a day for horse rac­ing, and Dar­rel with his team work tire­lessly to make sure the be­hind the scenes work is done on time, to or­der and look­ing sen­sa­tional. They are the ones be­hind the scenes who put in the hard yards. Over the years he’s seen the track sur­vive floods, drought and count­less thun­der­storms. It’s all in a day’s work for Dar­rel who has lived his en­tire life in Ip­swich and spent the last 37 work­ing on the track and gar­dens at the Ip­swich Turf Club. “I left school in grade 11, I was at Ip­swich State High School and I just wanted to work,” Dar­rel said. “My first job was in a fur­ni­ture fac­tory, the one in Thorn Street. I only had one other job be­fore I started work­ing at the Ip­swich Turf Club, back in 1980.” Dar­rel says that even though he’s been there so long, ev­ery day still seems dif­fer­ent. “I wake up and I get ex­cited about go­ing to work, ev­ery day is dif­fer­ent. There’s so much to do and of course it all de­pends on the rac­ing sched­ule. Last week you can be rac­ing on a Fri­day, the next could be on a Wed­nes­day. So ev­ery day is sim­i­lar but dif­fer­ent. “My job in­volves ev­ery­thing, the train­ing tracks, the gar­dens, the rails, clean­ing the build­ings and main­te­nance. For events like the Ip­swich Cup the prepa­ra­tions are a bit dif­fer­ent. The grounds and the track have to be ab­so­lutely im­mac­u­late. There’s the amount of mar­quees and cold rooms that all have to be brought on the ground, toi­lets too, there’s lots of work to be done. “On the day it­self I’m usu­ally on the bar­ri­ers. It’s a lot more Dar­rel work said. for “It’s me vi­tal but to ev­ery­thingthe turf club,has to as be your per­fect,” weekly events don’t get big num­bers, so you need the big events to work, for you.” When you’re deal­ing with a race­track that is over 1km long, it takes lots of work to keep it in per­fect con­di­tion. “My job is to keep the track in shape. That’s mow­ing, spray­ing, fer­til­is­ing, all dif­fer­ent types of ma­chin­ery go on it, in­clud­ing putting holes in the track to break it up.

It lets air and wa­ter deep into the roots of the track, so ev­ery two or three months we do that. “When the con­di­tion of the track is de­scribed as ‘good’ it would be slightly moist, with very lit­tle rain­wa­ter on it. A ‘soft’ track is rain af­fected, with only a small amount, whereas a ‘heavy’ track would mean wa­ter on the track, and its very heavy un­der foot. “Nor­mally horses pre­fer a good track, or a soft track,” Dar­rel ex­plained. “If there’s lots of wa­ter out there it shouldn’t af­fect the safety of the track. We keep the grass about four inches high, which cre­ates cush­ion­ing and a good cover. The horses don’t pen­e­trate the track too much when you have that kind of cush­ion­ing.” Dar­rel knows what a big Ip­swich Cup means to the club and the com­mu­nity, and over the years has seen it get big­ger and big­ger. “I adore the Ip­swich Cup, so many peo­ple come and the at­mos­phere is just amaz­ing,” he said. “It re­ally has a rep­u­ta­tion around the coun­try now, peo­ple talk about it for months af­ter­wards, plus at­ten­dance-wise its un­be­liev­able. Over the last 30 years I’ve seen it grow in rep­u­ta­tion, and size…so many peo­ple come to the cup, and the club has come up with so many good ideas.” Dar­rel has seen it all over his al­most four decades,

“I wake up and I get ex­cited about go­ing to work, ev­ery day is dif­fer­ent.”

and noth­ing worse than the 2011 floods which saw the en­tire track go un­der, and meant a week-long clean-up. “When the track went un­der in the floods, it was a mas­sive job to get all the de­bris off the track, it took lots of work. There was a wrecker’s yard down the road and we ended up with hun­dreds and hun­dreds of tyres that had floated over to the track area, it took us a whole week to clean up the place. It took about a month for the track to come back to where it was. If you can’t race horses the club loses money and other tracks have to pick up the slack.” A res­i­dent of Ya­manto, Dar­rel still loves his job, and is proud to be a part of some­thing that is so im­por­tant to the Ip­swich com­mu­nity. “Years ago Ip­swich had a re­ally bad rep­u­ta­tion and it has pro­gressed enor­mously. The Mayor is on the com­mit­tee here and he’s been a rev­e­la­tion for the city,” he said. “He’s helped put us on the map and the Ip­swich Cup is rep­re­sen­ta­tive of how pro­gres­sive the city has be­come.” If you’re head­ing to cup, say g’day to Dar­rel if you see him. Chances are he’ll be around some­where. “I like be­ing out­doors, and the peo­ple I work with,” he said. “I hope to re­tire one day, and I won’t be do­ing much gar­den­ing. I’m hop­ing my wife and I can take a car­a­van around Aus­tralia.”

PHOTO: DAVID NIELSEN

TURF JOB: Dar­rel Bell with Ip­swich Turf Club op­er­a­tions man­ager Steve Har­ling (left).

PHOTO: DAVID NIELSEN

Dar­rel recre­ates his photo from 1990 on an up­dated mower, but the smile re­mains the same

PHOTO: FILE

Flash­back: Dar­rel posed in this QT pic in 1990

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