BALLARAT Turf Club chief executive Lachlan McKenzie concedes a relentless effort to get its track up to scratch for this month’s inaugural two-day jumps racing carnival is coming at a “substantial financial cost”.
With two sections of the course – at the home turn and around the 200m mark of the home straight – still battling with drainage issues, the club has replaced covers with marquees to accelerate the drying process.
The covers will still be used in other areas of the straight, but the marquees - which house industrial heaters – are already proving effective in the areas of significant concern.
Scheduled for Saturday, August 20 and Sunday, August 21, the festival will be the first of its kind conducted at the BTC.
McKenzie makes no apology for the measures being undertaken to run the carnival.
“Our view is it’s a long-term investment and we are doing everything we can to ensure we secure these race meetings for the future,” McKenzie said.
“This is unprecedented steps for a regional racing club to preserve a race meeting and highlights the level of importance that the BTC puts on being able to host the Grand National Steeplechase weekend for years to come.”
Despite a level of optimism that both days will go ahead as planned, McKenzie admits the opening meeting of the carnival could be transferred.
He said the priority was day two, when the time-honoured Grand National Steeplechase will be run.
McKenzie believes this meeting is the “jewel in the crown” and concedes the club could ask Racing Victoria to shift the Saturday card if it meant the track would be in the best possible condition for the Sunday races.
The BTC has had some meetings transferred away from the course in recent times to allow it to carry out the remedial works.
Despite the ongoing drainage issues, the club’s training facilities are still popular, according to McKenzie.
“On a brighter note, the training facility continues to grow and in the last fortnight we’ve had upwards of 60 horses coming once or twice per week from Warrnambool and other race tracks to train at Ballarat,” McKenzie told The Courier.
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