ATA Victorian Branch – Members Update / Victoria / 07 Sep, 2010

RELIEF IN SIGHT FOR TURF RACING

With one of the wettest winters resulting in a record number of transferred meetings, RVL has assured the ATA that it is confident of avoiding a similar scenario next season.

Victoria’s winter racing was characterised with at least one, if not more, country race meetings transferred each week - mainly to the Geelong Synthetic track - the result of waterlogged tracks unable to cope with a deluge of rain, rendering them unsafe for racing.

Turf tracks were in short supply to host meetings transferred from other turf venues, with some tracks that hold up well in winter, falling victim to the “real winter” that Victoria has not experienced for 15 years or more.

RVL has assured the ATA that with the renovated Mornington track ready to be reopened in the coming months and the newly reconstructed Werribee track also ready to resume hosting race meetings, the availability of grass race tracks will improve. With further maintenance work carried out at Ballarat, and organised race trials resuming at Traralgon, there may be fewer meetings transferred to the Geelong Synthetic race track next winter.

The ATA has emphasized to RVL both the need and importance of the availability of grass tracks in the country to host meetings that need to be transferred owing to adverse weather conditions.

The ATA has also expressed its concerns with the lack of available venues for organised trials during the winter months - a critical time of year for trainers as they prepare for the rich spring carnival. RVL has acknowledged these concerns and further assured the ATA that they will be addressed.

GEELONG SYNTHETIC STANDS UP

While a thorough review and assessment of racing at the new Geelong Synthetic track will be undertaken at the end of the current season of Synthetic track racing, there is little doubt that Victorian racing would have lost a record number of race meetings had it not been possible to transfer these meetings to the Synthetic surface at Geelong.

Despite the delays and controversies associated with the overhaul of the Geelong Synthetic track, it has proved to be a lifeline in saving meetings that would undoubtedly have been lost owing to the record winter rains, thereby denying valuable prize money opportunities for owners, trainer and jockeys.

The ability of the new Geelong Synthetic track to host the record number of additional meetings, often back to back, and often up to three or four meetings each week must be acknowledged, along with the support of the Geelong Race Club and its staff.