BALLARAT Turf Club has put its return to racing on hold until October.
Racing Victoria has transferred another four race meetings to provide time to carry out repairs to an over-compacted section of the newly reconstructed home straight.
The club plans to resume racing on Wednesday, October 8.
This will give the BTC three race days, including Thursday, October 23, and Monday, November 3, before its first Saturday metropolitan class Ballarat Cup meeting on November 22.
The re-opening was originally scheduled for Sunday, May 11, and later shifted to June.
With several meetings already transferred, the BTC had planned to resume racing on Wednesday, July 30. This meeting has been transferred to the Geelong synthetic track.
Also transferred: Sunday, August 10, to Warrnambool; Sunday, September 7, to Wangaratta; and Sunday, September 21, to Wangaratta.
BTC chief executive Lachlan McKenzie said further postponing of the reopening until October would provide certainty for the club’s members, sponsors and trainers.
“The decision to delay means we can plan accordingly rather than watching the weather and wondering from meeting to meeting whether we can proceed,” McKenzie said.
“We are mindful that the community and the industry has been eagerly awaiting Ballarat’s return to racing, so this is disappointing news for all, but it’s been made in our best long-term interests.
“The advice we’ve received from turf and soil experts is that we’re best to take a conservative approach to ensure the track is in an optimum condition for spring and, beyond that, next winter.
“We are confident that it will enhance racing and training at Sportsbet-Ballarat once we address this issue.”
RV infrastructure executive general manager Jamie McGuinness said considerable earthworks undertaken in the home straight and the application of extra irrigation to keep the new turf healthy through an unusually hot spell in late summer had led to the profile being more compacted than anticipated.
“The issue was highlighted after the first major rainfall event before the scheduled return on June 1, which resulted in surface water on the day. McGuinness said Racing Victoria did not believe the repairs could be carried out in winter without causing long-term damage to the track.
“The remedial work that will be undertaken throughout September will ensure that the track is ready to race in October and be in good condition for the historic Ballarat Cup meeting in late November.”
Owing to the transfer of the September 21 meeting, the $60,000 Gold Nugget, 1600m, has been switched to Sunday, May 31, next year.