Turf Chat: Mixed benefits from Easter rain
THE heavy Easter rains could not have come at a better time for the Ipswich racecourse.
The rain came as the track is readied for a heavy workload over the two months heading into the Ipswich Cup on June 13.
After a two-week break following the transfer of the meeting on April 1 to Doomben, a refreshed course proper will be presented tomorrow with just two months until the big day.
The reason for the transfer of last week’s meeting was to allow the course proper some time to recover after a recent heavy workload including the last two meetings on rain affected tracks.
Some repairs were undertaken at the home turn where the heaviest workload of racing occurs in a bid to allow the course proper to be in its best shape leading into late autumn/winter.
The heavy rain over the Easter weekend still had the Ipswich track rated as a heavy 10 yesterday, which puts tomorrow’s meeting in some doubt.
The positive of the rain has been cleansing of the surface and consistent water placement over the course proper – something that irrigation cannot quite achieve.
Another positive is that the rain will have soaked into the track given that it was a few days prior to the race meeting.
The last two race meetings where significant damage was caused to the course proper was as a result of rain on the day of the meetings – causing the top layer to become slippery and loose which results in damage to the turf coverage.
Cushion track debate
ALL South East Queensland tracks are under pressure while the works are underway on the Eagle Farm track, which is expected to be ready for a return to racing in late winter/early August.
It has become quite evident how difficult it is to cover the 70 odd metropolitan races in the time that Eagle Farm will have been down.
There would surely have been second thoughts on not using the Sunshine Coast cushion track over this time. This was a policy decided upon three years ago, which has however put heavy pressure on the turf tracks of Queensland racing, especially as the primary Queensland track of Eagle Farm has been out of action for an extended period.
Exacerbating this problem was the decision to do away with the cushion track at Toowoomba in preference for a return to turf racing.
The turf track at Toowoomba was reinstalled in December of 2013 although there have been issues with this track as well – as evidenced by the lack of racing there in 2015 while the track is refurbished following heavy wear on the new strathayr turf track.
On the flip side, the return to turf at Toowoomba resulted in greater wagering turnover and higher patronage compared to the previously widely unpopular cushion track.
However it is events such as washed out meetings, heavy rain periods, the primary Queensland track being unavailable, and repairs needing to be made to turf tracks following heavy workloads, that provided the reasoning for the cushion tracks to be first installed for racing around a decade ago.
THE first day of the Championships at Randwick finally went ahead two days late yesterday after the meeting was postponed from Saturday.
It was still a great day of racing where four Group 1 races were decided on a heavy track under fine conditions.
There were a number of people, including yours truly, who were disadvantaged with the meeting being transferred from Saturday and the Star Casino in Sydney had a much bigger day than originally expected with no racing on.
The second day of the Championships are on Saturday at Randwick.
The Group 1 races featured are the Queen Elizabeth Stakes, the Sydney Cup, the Australian Oaks, and the Queen of the Turf after which time the Autumn Carnival will be winding down and leading to the Queensland Winter Carnival.
This carnival commences on April 25 for the Prime Minister’s Cup at the Gold Coast and runs through the Ipswich Cup on June 13.