THE final square of turf of Ballarat’s thoroughbred race track has been laid.
Works on the Ballarat Turf Club’s race track began in November, and have since replaced turf and levelled out the home-straight “dip”.
However, Ballarat Turf Club chief executive officer Lachlan McKenzie said hot weather last month had stalled the turf lay by one week.
“Rather than having all the turf laid by January 23, it was just finished on Tuesday. It’s too risky to lay turf in hot weather as there is an increased risk that the turf won’t take,” McKenzie said.
“We are still aiming to race in May, but a final decision will not be made until we go through the return to racing program in April or early May.
“This program will enable us to receive feedback on the track from stakeholders such as leading jockeys and trainers.
“If this means there is a slight delay in returning to racing, it will be most worthwhile for the long term to ensure the track is perfect.”
An infestation of shallow-rooted poa grass prompted the track upgrade after it built up over five years.
McKenzie said the upgrade would bring it to world-class standard.
The $1.5 million dollar refurbishment has seen 2.5km of drainage installed, alteration of track height and the home turn camber improved.
“It’s in fantastic condition and has been mowed regularly, the growth rate is phenomenal. But it’s a bit different to racing on it and a lot of money has been spent so we don’t want to rush back into it,” McKenzie said.
“By virtually changing the track heights we had to change the height of the outside running rail, which means we have had to alter the height of the lawns on the patrons side of the fence to ensure the best possible viewing.”